Louis Benassi 1961 - 2020


In November 2007 we received a phone call at Close-Up. My colleague picked up and told me I should be dealing with that one... A man, with an unmistakable Glaswegian accent, told me that “I heard you guys are planning to show Gustav Deutsch Film Is on DVD… Well that’s not gonna happen man because we’re showing it next week on 16mm… so you’re going to have to cancel that one as it’s obviously clashing with our event…” This was my first ever conversation with Louis. The tone was very clear: there was no way he would allow us to go ahead with our screening. But I wasn’t ready to back down either… So we decided to meet in a pub in Spitalfields and discuss this matter further. We met, discussed, drank, argued and drank some more. The outcome was that he introduced our screening, but more importantly it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I won’t go on about how many events we then put together, the list would be too long or, as he liked to speak of his CV, it’d be as thick as the yellow pages… but one stuck in my mind. A few years later, Louis helped building Close-Up’s cinema. In the lead to the grand opening, everyone gave a hand. But only he stayed awake for four days with me, before our doors could open on one of the hottest days of July 2015. Only Louis could throw himself into a project and commit to helping his friends in that way.

Louis was part of the fabric that makes Close-Up what it became. Filmmaker, programmer, avid attendee of our screenings, he also worked as a 35mm projectionist as his love for the medium spread across all its aspects; making and exhibiting, writing and discussing it, by all means necessary.

But this is not how I think of him. I only remember the friend who I shared so many thoughts, laughter and sometimes sorrows with. A man of an unalterable generosity. A friend who in the face of adversity and the hard times of life always found the strength to laugh. A man whose affirmation of life was unfathomable, something I was always amazed by and deeply admired.

A lovable rascal, an unrestrainable mischievous critic, a golden heart, a great artist, as he’d put it “marginalised by the marginalised”. His generosity to his friends and his commitment to the art of filmmaking had no limit.

A few days ago we went for a walk, my kids and my partner, in the forest. The leaves and branches of a couple of trees started to move, gently, as if someone was blowing them just for us. We all stopped for a moment to listen to their sound in the quiet of the wood. And I knew it was you Louis. I so dearly love and miss you my friend, my brother, the warmth of your company and that of a brandy we’d share together.

Damien Sanville
31st of December 2020