A Tribute to Steve Livernash

I worked with Steve on and off for about fifteen years. Technically I was his manager, but it always seemed like it was the other way around, that I was working for him. Any pretenses you might have when working with Steve quickly evaporated; they ran off his muscular shoulders like water. Still working at sixty-seven, he could carry a fifty-pound shipping container of 35mm film in each arm and walk up stairs with ease. He was not easily impressed. He had seen them all in his booth of wonders: Abbas Kiarostami, Sean Penn, Sven Nykvist, Oliver Stone, Bob Gardner, Al Pacino. He watched the parade come through, always with that same twinkle in his eye. After all, he had been awarded one of the first PhD's given in cinema studies at NYU. But even that fact he wouldn't let rest easy. He would insist on setting the record straight that actually his PhD was fraudulent because NYU had failed to acquire the proper accreditation that would allow them to issue it. I think he told me that the real motivation for acquiring the degree was to escape the draft and the Vietnam War. The image of Steve in uniform in Vietnam is difficult to imagine, but if he had been there, I am sure it would have been a more honest war. A Baroque opera, a harpsichord piece by Handel, or a visit to a rediscovered New York railroad tunnel might impress him, but that was where it ended. He kept us honest and we loved him for that. – Steffen Pierce

The Harvard Film Archive celebrates and pays tribute to its longtime projectionist and keeper of the flame, the legendary Steve Livernash. Friends and fans are welcome to share memories and join us for a reception followed by a free screening of Steve's favorite film, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game.

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