The Telluride Daily Planet reported on Wednesday that Bill Pence, a co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, passed away on December 6 after a protracted illness. He was 82.
Along with his wife Stella, cinema historian James Card, director Tom Luddy, and the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities, Bill Pence co-founded the festival in 1974. Additionally, he held the positions of co-director and president of the National Film Preserve, which runs the Telluride Film Festival annually.
“Bill Pence is a character who has practically become mythical in the context of the Telluride Film Festival. In a statement provided to Variety, Julie Huntsinger, executive director of the Telluride Film Festival, referred to the founder as “an enormously generous man, but any single word isn’t enough. “He was all these things and more: a showman, a visionary, a great leader, and a movie buff. Bill was a fantastic person, but that was the essential thing. A great parent and spouse who is also intelligent and kind. We promise to carry on the crucial work of cinema appreciation in the spirit of his example.
As a child, Bill Pence, a native of Minneapolis, worked as an usher in the city’s movie theatres. In the 1950s, he became a member of and served as president of the student film organization at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University), where he often showed films to students. After graduating, he joined the American Air Force and served there for a while.
Bill Pence served as the vice president of Janus Films in New York from 1965 to 1978. He had a crucial role in expanding its collection, which later formed the foundation of the Criterion Collection.
Before retiring in 2006, Bill Pences worked on Telluride Film Festival programming and expansion for 33 years. In 1980, they also started the three-year-old Santa Fe Film Festival.
Turner Classic Movies hired Pence and his wife to assist with the planning and managing the TCM Classic Film Festival after they departed from Telluride. Pence spent more than 50 years assembling the film prints now housed at the Harvard Film Archive and the Museum of Modern Art.
Bill Pence leaves behind his wife, two kids, Zazie and Lara, and four grandchildren.
When And Where Was Bill Pence Born And Raised?
Bill Pence was reared in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and worked as an usher at various movie theatres during his first few jobs. He attended Carnegie Tech, now known as Carnegie Mellon University, in the 1950s, when he was in charge of the student film society. After serving in the U.S. Air Force for a while following graduation, he founded Film Arts Enterprises in 1961 to launch his film preservation, restoration, and distribution career.