Former Tyneside Cinema Director Sheila Whitaker passed away on Monday 29 July 2013 in London.
Sheila served as Tyneside Cinema Director during the 1980s before going on to be director of the London Film Festival, head of programming at the National Film Theatre in London and later director of international programmes for the Dubai International Film Festival in 2004.
A lifetime lover of film, she headed the British National Film Archive collection of stills and posters and co-edited Life and Art: The New Iranian Cinema and An Argentine Passion: The Films of Maria Luisa Bemberg. She served on festival juries from Venice to Syria and was also founding editor of Writing Women a journal of women’s writing. In addition, she wrote obituaries of entertainment figures for the Guardian newspaper.
She was awarded a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Newcastle and an Honorary Doctorate of Law by the University of Warwick.
Sheila helped to relaunch and stablise the Tyneside Cinema helping the cinema to keep moving forward and diversifying its programme during a very tricky time, and we are very sad to hear about her passing.