Remembering Bill Pence

1940 – 2022 Emeritus Director of Hop Film and Co-Founder of the Telluride Film Festival

Bill Pence never sought the spotlight. Although the Telluride Film Festival, which he co-founded in 1974, is now one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, accolades and fame were not important to Bill. Sharing his love and appreciation of cinema with audiences was all that mattered to him.

Bill changed the landscape for film at Dartmouth when he arrived in 1983. As his official bio notes, Bill built his first theater in 1965, and he owned and operated more than a dozen art and commercial theaters until the 1980s through their companies, The Flick, Inc., Rocky Mountain Cinemas and The Picture Show Corporation. He pioneered the distribution of specialized and foreign films into non-metropolitan college towns with his company, Film Arts Enterprises, established in 1961. He was vice president of Janus Films (1965-78), and at Janus, Bill was instrumental in the selection and building of Janus' unparalleled library of classic films that served as the foundation of the Criterion DVD Collection. Bill also championed the restoration of prints at a time when others in the film industry hadn't yet seen the light, and he has worked tirelessly for the preservation and showing of films around the world.

Bill co-founded the Telluride Film Festival with Stella Pence, James Card and Tom Luddy in 1974, and for 33 years served as Co-Director/President of the National Film Preserve, Ltd., that produces the festival. The unique partnership between the Telluride Film Festival and the Hopkins Center was one of the many genius ideas Bill had for inspiring the next generation to take interest in cinema. For decades Dartmouth students assisted in the curation of Telluride's short film program under his guidance and also joined the festival's student symposium. Now there is a small "Dartmouth mafia" among the ranks of the festival staff and longtime attendees, who each year reunite to remember Bill Pence and their time with the Dartmouth Film Society. He will be greatly missed by all.

When we at the Hop think back on Bill, we envision Spaulding brimming with curious movie lovers eager to experience movies in 4D with the smell of garlic wafting down the aisles. Or the luminaries Bill hosted, like Werner Herzog to Meryl Streep. Or the classic films he shared with us, from Tarkovsky to Varda.

We will be honoring Bill's legacy at the Hop in the new year. In the meantime, we hope you'll raise a bucket of popcorn in his memory the next time you're at the movie theater immersed in the art of cinema. As Bill always said: "Enjoy the SHOW!"

Sydney Stowe & Johanna Evans '10