A Curator Emeritus of the National Film and Sound Archive, and long-time member of AMOHG Richard Keys passed away last Friday as a result of pancreatic cancer.  Tributes have been appearing via email and on industry Facebook pages. We’ve put together a collection here. 


Ray Edmonson

Richard was Curator Emeritus of the National Film and Sound Archive, former staff member of NFSA, Australian Film Commission and Cinesound, driving force behind Canberra’s Reel McCoy film society, he will be greatly missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues. On Wednesday the NFSA and its Friends will jointly present a screening of Newsfront at the NFSA and dedicate it to Richard’s memory.

Tom Jeffrey

Sad news.  Will indeed be greatly missed.  A lovely bloke and an enthusiast. 

Malcolm Smith

A very kind, gentle and compassionate man who cared deeply about the industry. 

We worked together at the Film Radio and Television Board of the Australia Council in the 70’s and I remember him as a diligent, dedicated colleague who went out of his way to help applicants who were applying for funds. 

I am very happy that we were able to reconnect in recent years via AMOHG.

Julia Overton

Richard Keys was an enduring presence in my life. He was an enthusiastic supporter for so many. Remembering so many robust discussions of a freewheeling nature. His forensic knowledge of all things to do with the Australian film industry has always inspired me, and will continue to do so. His work will live on. Condolences to his family.

Graham Shirley

VALE Richard Keys.
I first met Richard in 1973, when he was a project officer for the Film, Radio & TV Board for the Australia Council. Several years later, he encouraged me to apply for a Film, Radio & TV Board research grant for a project I was embarking on re the US special effects pioneer and director/cameraman Norman Dawn, whose career included three films in Australia. The grant came through, and I distilled something of the mass of information I found into Australian Cinema: The First 80 Years.

In later years, I admired the extraordinary span of Richard’s work in the film industry, including in newsreels and his work as an animation cameraman at the Eric Porter studios.

In 2018, Richard was one of the organisers of the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the site of Sydney’s Supreme Sound Studios, at 12 Young Street, Paddington, reported here in Australian Cinematographer magazine .

Dominic Case

VALE Richard Keys
As others have said, a lovely man, and absolutely central to the Australian film industry over many many years. NFSA holds 16 Oral History interviews conducted by Richard, and 3 of Richard himself: interviewed by Hugh McInnes back in 1973, by Martha Ansara in 1996, and by Stuart Glover in 2002. A full listing can be found here. NFSA’s catalogue also lists a number of still photos of Richard. Showing the length of his involvement with film, the earliest one is of Richard with Bruce Beresford among a group of 15-year-old school friends (they both attended The Kings School Parramatta), filming at Lake Parramatta in 1955. A small number of photos (but unfortunately not that one) are accessible online, including this delightful one taken at the NFSA.

Messages on Cinema Reborn and AMOHG Facebook pages

Geoff Gardner

Vale Richard Keys. Richard was a staunch supporter of AMOHG and maintained a lively interest in its activities to the end. As well, he was a staunch supporter of Cinema Reborn from day one. He will be missed by many of us.

Gillian Leahy

He was project officer for My Life Without Steve. When one assessor asked how you could make one room interesting for an hour he said “Chantal Akerman would have no problem”. A great smack down. I always loved him. He was generous, funny and kind. I’m very sorry he has left us.

Jeni Thornley

RIP Richard Keys, friend and colleague. We worked together at the AFC in the 1980s; he also ran the terrific AFC weekly staff film screenings; later in 1990 we became film valuers on our first valuation of the Movietone-Cinesound Collection, under NFSA’s Operation Newsreel. We really bonded on this valuation- it took us over three months; I will dearly miss our reminiscing on this amazing valuation! Sympathy and kind thoughts to Ruth, Josie and Nick at this time of loss. Richard-a kind and gentle soul, with a sharp mind and wit – and, yes, a film scholar with depth (and a film practice).

Jan Muller

Dear Richard, you were one of the first to welcome me to the NFSA and Australia. You supported me unconditionally. I loved our conversations and your always present smile. Farewell Richard!

Daniela Torsh

I remember him fondly and have a vague memory he may have been related to my late ex-husband Lou Irving. Richard was always kind and friendly.

Karen Jane Borger

Such a very sad loss.

I studied at AFTRS with Richard’s daughter Josie.
It was Richard’s idea to have AFTRS students in 1989 create this ‘call to action’ to help find and save old newsreels, and to make a tribute short film for the NFSA. I got lucky when Di Drew, Head of Directing Department at AFTRS selected me to helm the project. It was to be The Last Newsreel, a replica in format celebration of the history of Cinesound & Movietone Newsreels, shot on 35mm B&W, screened as a short at Greater Union Cinemas before the features, and added to the menu of Newsfront DVDs.
Our lives and careers were touched directly by Richard’s oversight.
He and the archival team at the NFSA were so amazing. The crew and I were supported so well as we sourced archival footage and were given carte blanche whilst shooting at the Canberra archive.
We learnt so much!
Such a beautiful introduction to our industry made possible and orchestrated by Richard.

Vale to this lovely man who made that short film possible.

Cam Ford

Richard was always a quiet achiever.   We will miss his knowledge and subtle humour

Messages on Tom Zubrycki’s Facebook page (there are many more!)

Tom Zubrycki

Richard Keys died on Friday night. Very sad news indeed. Richard was a great champion of independent film during his time at the Australian Film Commission in the 80’s and 90’s. He supported and kick-started many people’s careers including mine. He always made the trip down to Sydney for the film festival every year, but this year I missed his presence.

Richard had an amazing knowledge of Australian film which extended well beyond the mainstream….to documentary, independent features and shorts. On Wednesday the NFSA and its Friends will jointly present a screening of Newsfront at the NFSA open to all, and dedicate it to his memory.

Richard I’m sure will be greatly missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues. Vale Richard Keys.

Cathy Robinson

So, so sad Tom. He was a thoroughly nice, kind man, a lovely colleague and a veritable walking encyclopedia, with a story for everything. Vale RK.

Jane Castle

Very sad news. Richard was a great and loyal friend to both my parents, Lilias Fraser and Norman Castle. He worked with them on many of their films, including behind the camera on one of the first land rights films in Australia, This is Their Land. He was also a stalwart supporter of When the Camera Stopped Rolling.
Vale Richard! ❤️ (pic is of Richard and me at SFF last year)

James Ricketson

Yes, Richard is definitely one of the unsung heroes of the Australian film industry. He cared enormously about Australian film and filmmakers and, as an AFC bureaucrat, bent as many rules as he could get away with, in order to help. I too missed him at the Film Festival this year😢

Peter Kemp

Such an impressively informed cinephile and a genuinely nice guy. One of nature’s gentlemen, good-humoured and civilised. He’ll be missed by many. Ave atque Vale, Richard Keys. 💐🙏🏻🎬👏

Chris Nash

Indeed sad news. Richard was the AFC person we dealt with to secure funding for our 1988 doco Philippines, my Philippines.  It was tricky because of some opposition to the political analysis proposed for the film, and Richard was a stalwart.  As Peter Kemp says, he was one of nature’s gentlemen, and able to support applicants through a process with plenty of traps for inexperienced players.  Vale.

David Donaldson

Richard gave away Uni to work at Cinesound but stayed around SU Film Group for years after. Lifelong enthusiast of film as film in variety of settings. ‘Bye mate.

Barbara Chobocky

Fond memories of Richard’s gentle nature, sharp wit and passion for films and filmmakers. Condolences to all his family and friends.

A full listing of the interviews Richard recorded for the NFSA, along with several interviews with Richard himself, can be found on two pages of entries on the NFSA’s Search the Collection part of the NFSA website.


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