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Helen de Witt

Helen is an associate lecturer in Film and Media. With John Airlie, she leads the Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema course. She is also a guest lecturer on the MA in Film Programming and Curating. Prior to that, she taught Introduction to Film Studies as well as many short courses on specialist subjects ranging from The Youth Movie and British Exploitation Cinema of the 70s to Transgressive Sexualities and Madonna. She has wide ranging interests across all forms of cinema and her main research activity is in the Avant Garde and Artists’ Moving Image, Political Cinema and Documentary and Women’s Films, informed by feminism, psychoanalysis and queer theory.  She received a Distinguished Lecturer Award in 2011.

Helen received a BA (Hons) in Art History from the University of Essex and an MA in Art History from the same University. She has a Diploma in Media Studies from Birkbeck University of London.

Helen is an experienced lecturer, writer, film curator and festival producer. She is currently Head of Cinemas at the BFI, leading programme development for BFI Southbank, and she has programmed the Experimenta section artists’ moving image for the BFI London Film Festival for several years. Prior to this, she was festivals producer at the BFI, delivering the London Film Festival and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (now BFI Flare). After working at the Tate Gallery, she started her film career in independent cinema exhibition and specialised distribution, programming the Scala and Electric cinemas and heading Acquisitions at Cinenova Women’s’ Film Distribution. She became the first Head of Cinema at the Lux Centre for Film Video and Digital Arts in London. From there she was appointed Head of the BFI’s Programme Unit that delivered UK-wide cinema programming and national exhibition projects. She was vice-chair of LUX Artists’ Moving Image Distribution from its inception in 2002 to 2007 and was chair of Four Corners Film in East London from 2008 to 2013.

She has been a guest lecturer at many universities and cultural institutions including Central St Martins School of Art, De Montford University Film and Television Summer School, London College of Communication, National Film School, Serpentine Gallery, Tate Britain and the University of Westminster. She has also served on many film festival juries and awards panels including: Animate Projects Awards, British Animation Awards, CPH DOX, Film London FLAMIN Production Awards, London Turkish Film Festival, Open City Docs, Women in Film and TV Awards and has carried out consultancy projects for Arts Council England, FACT Liverpool and Film London and she has been a Creative Skillset Guiding Lights mentor.

She has curated over 30 national and international film projects for festivals and galleries including Barbican London, Belarus International Women's Film Festival, Cinema de Balie Amsterdam, Contemporary Arts Centre Warsaw, Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, ICA London, MediaWave Festival Hungary, Moscow International Film Festival, Tranz<>Tech Toronto, Tate Modern and Up Front Gallery Tokyo. She has interviewed many significant filmmakers, artists and actors including: Fatih Akin, John Akomfrah, Andrea Arnold, Nick Broomfield, Sophie Fiennes, Mike Figgis, Colin Firth, William Greaves, Johan Grimonprez, Agnieszka Holland, Ken Jacobs, Asif Kapdia, Fred Kelemen, William Klein, Andrew Kotting, Peter Kosminsky, Kim Longinotto, Guy Maddin, Hana Makhmalbaf, Jonas Mekas, Bill Morrison, Ken McMullen, Shirin Neshat, Bill Nighy, Stephen Poliakoff, John Sayles, Jurgen Teller, James Toback, Agnes Varda, Gillian Wearing, Frederick Wiseman and Slavoj Zizek.

Helen has published over 35 articles and papers on film for various journals and websites including Animate Projects, Arts Council England, BFI Screenonline, Black Dog Books, Intellect Journals, International Film Guide, Little Joe, Sight & Sound, Spanish Film Academy and Vertigo.

In April 2017, Helen will leave her permanent position at the BFI to become consultant Senior Programme Advisor, specialising in Artists’ Moving Image and Women’s projects, as well as continuing as LFF Experimenta programmer.  She will be pursuing her interests in research and in production, becoming an associate lecturer at LCC and guest lecturer at NFTS. She is also taking up a directorship of The Service, an independent production company dedicated to producing films that promote social impact, the arts and creative collaboration.