10-16 September 2018 is Remember a Charity in your Will Week, an annual celebration of legacy giving. We are enormously grateful to have been remembered in the Will of the late Dr Clifford Shaw, a BFI Member since 1992, who passed away in 2015. He is remembered fondly by all who met him at the BFI, and the legacy of his generous bequest will be seen for many years to come.
Dr Clifford Shaw was well known by many at the BFI as a charming and thoughtful man with a real passion for, and an extraordinary knowledge of film. He was well known to our archivists who observed that he may have been one of the last cinema-goers to have seen a silent film on its initial release.
He attended every British Silent Film Festival since its beginning in 1998, and until 2014 also attended every BFI London Film Festival. His commitment to the art form meant he would travel long distances to see the latest restorations, often returning to Sheffield on the overnight bus from London Victoria.
BFI Curator Bryony Dixon described Dr Shaw as “a proper film connoisseur”. He is remembered most fondly for his unerring love of the act of going to the cinema, and was dedicated to the cause of celebrating cinematic environments. Although he loved the films of the 30s and 40s, he did not only look to the past. He was a proud holder of a cinema season ticket and would see every film on release: the good and the bad.
Dr Shaw’s love for cinema started at an early age: “It was 1928, when I was nine or 10, I got in the habit of going to the cinema and that was the last year of the silent era”. He grew up in North London and would cycle to the cinema as often as he could. Even during World War II, he wasn’t deterred: “I remember walking through the city at night with my tin hat on and finding all the cinemas closed”. He even arranged film shows in West Africa where he was posted after qualifying as a doctor.
Dr Shaw eventually worked in London, Ipswich, Rotherham and Nottingham before arriving in Sheffield as Chief Medical Officer of Health in 1965. He retired in 1984, allowing him to dedicate his attention to studying local cinema history, culminating in a book entitled Sheffield Cinemas (published in 2001).
Alongside his generous bequest to the BFI, he also left a legacy to the Sheffield community, supporting Cinema for All and founding the Broomhall Community Cinema. Sheffield Doc/Fest now has a screening dedicated to him each year.
Dr Shaw supported the BFI for decades, and we were overwhelmed to receive his generous legacy gift. In line with his wishes, his legacy will be used for the preservation and restoration of film, including film held in the digital form, at the BFI National Archive. This legacy will help ensure that the BFI’s National Archive is protected well into the future: preserving, restoring and interpreting our vast collection to ensure our film heritage is widely accessible in cinemas and in the home.
In commemoration of this wonderful legacy, Charles Fairall, one of the world’s leading conservation technologists, is now the Dr Clifford Shaw Head of Conservation at the BFI National Archive.
We are so grateful to Dr Shaw and he will be remembered by us all at the BFI.
9-15 September 2019 is Remember a Charity in your Will Week, an annual celebration of legacy giving. If the BFI has enriched your love of film, a gift in your Will could help secure our future, and ensure that future generations can benefit from our work.
If you are interested in finding out more information about leaving a legacy to the BFI and joining our Legacy Circle, or would like to inform us of your existing intentions, please contact Isobel Evans for a confidential and non-binding conversation on Isobel.Evans@bfi.org.uk or 020 7957 4729.