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'He was absolutely instrumental': BAMPFA director Tom Luddy dies at 79

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MARCH 05, 2023

Tom Luddy, producer, filmmaker and festival director of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, passed away Feb. 13 at age 79.

Luddy not only played a big role in the legacy of BAMPFA, but also made an impact on the film industry as a whole. He showcased cinema year-round for UC Berkeley and the Bay Area for people to enjoy, said BAMPFA Director of Film and senior film curator Susan Oxtoby.

“He was an ambassador of cinema and the film industry and he not only was an exceptional curator of the Pacific Film Archive and festivals, but he had this ability to bring people together to look at both contemporary and historic filmmaking and to really showcase what he thought were exceptional works,” Oxtoby said.

He started to work with BAMPFA later on in his career, soon after the museum first opened its doors in 1971. A year later, he became director of programming at the Pacific Film Archive. By 1975, he was the director of and film curator of the archive until 1980, when he left the organization.

He and the rest of BAMPFA had started showing 700 to 800 screenings per year during the 1970s, which showcased the history of cinema and allowed viewers to see it in its many forms.

“That effort of creating a tradition that we continue to this day of showcasing the history of world cinema, including contemporary filmmakers, (he) was absolutely instrumental in bringing to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area,” Oxtoby said.

Beyond his established career in cinema, Luddy is remembered as someone who was always willing to help others, someone who had a “sharp sense” of knowing how people could work to benefit from each other.

Luddy was also a campus alumnus. During his time on campus, he was involved in various film societies during the late 1960s, Oxtoby noted.

“He was extremely knowledgeable about film history and what was being (shown) in the present moment, but he also had this ability to to really excite filmmakers, audience members, industry professionals and he also brought that ability to his work as a film producer,” Oxtoby said.

After his time at BAMPFA, he started working at American Zoetrope where he had helped produce a lot of feature-length films.

With his work fostering relationships with various people, Luddy always knew how to stay in touch with all of his contacts, a quality that Oxtoby added made him well-connected in the film industry.

“He started very young in his involvement with film and film society movement(s) on campuses in the 60s and he was working until just a couple of years ago,” Oxtoby said. “(He has) remarkable tenure. This is why I think there’s just such an outpouring of gratitude for everything that he did to advance film culture.”

Contact Emewodesh Eshete at 


MARCH 05, 2023