We deeply regret to announce the death of Robert West, who passed away peacefully in his home Thursday morning.
Robert has been part of the ITVS family since the late 1990’s, when he worked as an Outreach Coordinator for the later-branded Community Cinema program. During the years that Robert was a part of the ITVS enterprise, he brought a level of commitment and sophistication to the art of community engagement – or as he later dubbed it “reel engagement.” Those of us who had the great pleasure of working with Robert during those years saw firsthand his deep commitment to supporting social issue documentaries and connecting people and organizations in a way that resulted in creating real change. Although he moved on to co-found his own organization, Working Films, Robert always remained involved in the ITVS mission, often assisting staff and filmmakers on various projects over the years.
Robert has been a visionary and a leader in the intersections of media and public engagement. Last fall, he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and terminal brain cancer. We at ITVS and Independent Lens, along with countless colleagues who have been beneficiaries of his work, were devastated by the news. Not surprisingly, in the months since then, Robert earned our even deeper admiration for the dignity, humor, and grit he has shown. Someone wise once wrote, “A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a dream is drudgery. But dreams and tasks together are the hope of the world.” Robert epitomized “the hope of the world” through his courage, his actions, and his contributions – back in the day at ITVS, Working Films, and with all the films and filmmakers he has helped.
To learn more about Robert, please click here.
From our blog
July 11, 2018
Illuminating the human condition: it’s a theme that pervades some of the most effective documentaries. Getting there has multiple paths and as a filmmaker, you have baggage you bring. For The Judge, filmmaker Erika Cohn was a complete outsider in her story and had to build trust with strangers. Bing Liu, on the other hand, mined his own community…
June 27, 2018
Following the story of a group of Muslim morticians in Newark, NJ, the brother filmmaking team Zeshawn and Aman Ali learned invaluable lessons regarding death, faith, and community. Their ITVS Open Call funded Two Gods allowed them intimate access alongside their participants Furquan and Nas, giving the Ali brothers a space to work together and focus…
May 9, 2018
Councilwoman follows the story of Carmen, a hotel housekeeper and mother from the Dominican Republic striving to advocate for low-income workers from the margins to Providence, Rhode Island city politics. Her journey encourages us all to reflect on who should be responsible for the decision-making in our communities. Margo Guernsey, director of…