Australian cinema mourns industry stalwart Bruce Leonard

The Australian cinema industry is mourning the loss of industry stalwart Bruce Leonard, who died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Lapstone on Thursday, March 14.

In 2014 Mr Leonard was named National Cinema Pioneer of the Year in recognition of the significant contribution he made to the cinema industry over 50 years. For the past 25 years he was the devoted, hard-working and ever friendly national secretary and treasurer of the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers and the Motion Picture Industry Benevolent Society, providing loyal, ever reliable service to both organisations.

Bruce Leonard

Bruce Leonard

Murray Forrest, the chairman of the MPIBS and former MD of Atlab Film Laboratory, said: "I witnessed his thoughtfulness, decency and caring for people. He was one of the finest gentlemen I have known in my 50 years in the film industry."

Mr Leonard started his career in the cinema industry in the early 1960s joining Hoyts Concessionaires first as assistant accountant then accountant. He married Jill during this period and they moved to Sydney's inner western suburbs.

After achieving his AASA Accountancy qualification in the late 1960s, Mr Leonard decided that accountancy was not for him, and joined Dulux Paints Publicity Department, writing and producing the Dulux radio program, "Decorating with Dulux", broadcast throughout New South Wales.

In 1976 he joined cinema advertising firm David Koffel Australia, making 35mm film commercials for retail and commercial organisations for screening in cinemas in their local markets.

When David Koffel Australia was sold to the English cinema advertising company Pearl and Dean, Mr Leonard found himself "surplus to requirements". So, in 1981, with the support of his wife Jill, he became an independent exhibitor, operating the Sussex Inlet Cinema on the NSW South Coast as a successful family concern until 1987, when he returned to Sydney.

He formed Bruce Leonard Film and Video Productions and established a successful 15 year relationship with Qantas. He produced the historic video programs: "A Tradition of Integrity - 1920-1971" and "The Pursuit of Excellence - 1971-2002".

In 1994 Mr Leonard was invited to be the National Co-ordinator of the "Australian Centenary of Cinema" celebrations and in 1996 organised the culminating celebratory event - the world premiere of the Australian movie Shine at the Hoyts Cinema Centre in Sydney.

In 1996 Mr Leonard began a 10 year association with the National Film and Sound Archive, initially producing a series of video programs on a range of historic subjects and six double-CDs under the collective title of "Australia's Radio Favourites" all for commercial release. He also wrote and hosted the weekly hour-long radio program, "Theatre of the Mind", re-broadcasting complete episodes of Australia's favourite radio serials, dramas, comedies and quiz shows from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. He also hosted a live-to-air version of the "Theatre of the Mind" each Friday night Sydney's 2GB, and on Melbourne's 3AW's Sunday night programme "Remember When".

It was back in 1978 that Mr Leonard began his long association with the Motion Picture Industry Benevolent Society, becoming a member of its council. In 1992 he took on the role of secretary/treasurer - a position he held until his untimely death.

In 1993, Mr Leonard accepted the appointment as National Honorary Secretary/Treasurer of the Australian Cinema Pioneers. He continued his long service with both organisations until 2017, when he stepped down from the Australian Cinema Pioneers, but continued on with the MPIBS.

Bruce Leonard is survived by his wife Jill; his son Peter and wife Katherine; his daughter Samantha and husband Adam, and six grandchildren.