Sunday, July 24, 2022

Obituary: Vale Richard Hudson Keys, November 17, 1937 – July 8, 2022.


Richard Keys. Photo: Maddie McGuigan

  JANE FREEBURY remembers film identity Richard Keys who has died aged 84.

I first met Richard in the late 1990s, not long after I came to Canberra. He was a staff member at the National Film and Sound Archive at that time. I remember his distinctive, tall frame and welcoming smile, and as someone always ready to strike up a conversation on matters film.

Since he passed away in Canberra earlier this month, I have learned of the affection that many in the industry and its institutions had for this life-long, passionate supporter for Australian film.

In later life, Richard remained connected with the NFSA as a curator emeritus, was a long-standing member of the Australian Media Oral History Group and a driving force behind the Reel McCoy film society in Canberra. Early in his career he worked at Cinesound and as an animation cameraman at another Sydney studio, before he joined the Film Radio and Television Board of the Australia Council, and was subsequently on the staff of the Australian Film Commission.

There is on the AMOHG website a long list of tributes to his contribution to the Australian film industry that show how much he will be missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues. Many filmmakers recall with affection his support for their projects, his kindness and also the breadth of his knowledge. Richard was a cinephile and a practitioner, who had once worked as an animation cameraman in Sydney.

It is so sad to hear that he is gone. I didn’t know Richard well, but we would meet for lunch every now and then to talk about the movies. No one who knew him will be surprised to hear these discussions were wide-ranging and enthusiastic. He was very knowledgeable, and an engaging lunch companion.  His wife Ruth would join us from time to time.

Richard and I were the Canberra contingent at the annual awards night in Sydney of the Film Critics Circle of Australia. An occasion at which he was often accompanied by his good friends, film historian and curator Graham Shirley and celebrated filmmaker Bruce Beresford, with whom he went to school in Sydney.

Bruce’s tribute to his old friend is here. It sums up the tributes of many who recall how Richard would champion their film projects and how his amiable, frank manner and sheer good nature earned the admiration of all who worked with him.

Condolences to wife Ruth and his family.