GL+Photo.jpgGraham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, died Thursday at his home in San Francisco after an 18-month battle with cancer, film society officials said today.

Leggat, 51, led the film society for nearly six years, and transformed it into a year-round cultural institution, society officials said.

Following his appointment in 2005, the society staff grew from 11 to 35, the board of directors from 12 to 22, and the operating budget from $2 million to $6 million.

Membership and ticket sales also skyrocketed as the society expanded year-round programming, including a fall season of seven focused festivals.

Leggat also signed a lease earlier this year allowing the organization to offer exhibitions, education and filmmaker services programs year-round.

The San Francisco Film Society/New People Cinema, featuring a 143-seat theater, will open its doors in the New People building at 1746 Post St. in Japantown on Sept. 1.

“[Leggat’s] vision, leadership, passion, work ethic, tenacity, imagination and daring along with his colorful language and wicked Scottish sense of humor have indelibly marked our organization with a valuable legacy and left it in the best shape–artistically, organizationally and financially–in its 54-year history,” said Pat McBaine, president of the society’s board of directors.

Leggat is survived by his partner Diana Chiawen Lee, son William and daughters Vhary and Isabella, a sister, his parents and two former wives.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the San Francisco Film Society. Condolences should be sent to or c/o Jessica Anthony, SFFS, 39 Mesa St., Suite 110, The Presidio, San Francisco CA 94129.

A public memorial service is planned for late September.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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