San Francisco Intl. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival exhibitions director Mark Finch was presumed dead following an apparent suicide leap from the Golden Gate Bridge on Jan. 14.
A briefcase was left midspan, and several written messages indicated Finch intended to kill himself, but at press time the 33-year-old’s body had not been recovered, nor had any witnesses come forward.
The news shocked friends in both local and international film communities, where Finch was known as a resourceful, enthusiastic and graciously professional networker for lesbian/gay cinema interests.
Though he’d shown few outer signs, letters left behind at S.F. gay fest producing org Frameline’s offices limned depression as an ongoing problem.
The Manchester, England-born Finch succeeded Michael Lumpkin as artistic director in 1992, and under his auspices the event (now in its 18th year) expanded quickly. Screening locations outside S.F. were added, while film and video titles screened grew in 1994 to 365, and the fest began attracting attention from producers and studios alike as an important showcase. Far larger than its counterparts in Los Angeles or New York City, the San Francisco event drew some 58,000 attendees last year.
Observers cited Finch’s “international vision” and diverse programming tastes as invaluable factors in the fest’s success. Chief among his innovations for the ’95 event will be the world’s first lesbian/gay film market, catering to distributors, sales agents and indie producers. It’s scheduled to proceed as planned in June. Before joining the Frameline staff, Finch had worked in various capacities for the British Film Institute, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Piccadilly and London gay/lesbian festivals. A witty writer, he also contributed to numerous magazines and anthologies.
He is survived by his mother, stepfather, a brother and a sister, all residents of England.