Veteran international film executive Lawrence Safir died in London on Aug. 5 after a long illness. He was 62.
The longtime distribution executive was one of the first London-based sales agents, and was a leading advocate for the independent film industry in Europe. From 1992 to 1998 he served as Vice Chairman on the Executive Committee of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA, then known as AFMA) and on its Board of Directors from 1998 to 2002.
Born in London, Safir was the son of British film executive Sidney Safir. After beginning his film career in 1966 with Warner Bros.’ Paris office, Safir moved back to London, working first as an executive with Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors and then with British Lion Film.
While at British Lion, Safir worked on the distribution of Nicholas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now,””Born Free” and a number of comedies by the Boulting Brothers. In 1977, following British Lion’s merger with EMI, Safir and his father established Safir Films, one of the first independent sales agencies in London, introducing to the international market Australian films such as Bruce Beresford’s “Breaker Morant,” Gillian Armstrong’s “My Brilliant Career”and Philip Noyce’s “Heatwave.”
Beginning in 1993, Safir served as IFTA’s European representative, first as Chairman, AFMA Europe, and then as V.P. of European Affairs, the position he held at the time of death. In this capacity he served on a number of advisory and regulatory bodies, including AGICOA, British Screen Advisory Council, FIAPF, Film Export UK, and PACT. Safir served as Chairman of ISAN-IA for two years, working to establish a unique identification standard for audiovisual programs. He represented IFTA at the WIPO treaty negotiations (working to establish protection of intellectual property in the digital age) and in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) debates over the impact of the new communications technology on traditional intellectual property protection.
Safir also taught a class about the sales agent business at the Media Business School in Madrid and was a recognized aviation expert specializing in the DC-3.
He is survived by his wife, Diana, two sons, a daughter, a brother and a sister.