Adrienne Mancia (1927-2022)

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing, on 11 December 2022 at the age of 95, of Adrienne Mancia, former Curator of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), one of the most respected programmers and curators in the film heritage field, and a mentor to many programmers of subsequent generations. Adrienne Mancia first joined The Museum of Modern Art in 1964, as Secretary to the Curator of the Film Department Richard Griffith. Within a year, with the new title of Curatorial Assistant, she became responsible for all film exhibitions. With the encouragement of Willard Van Dyke, the new Director of MoMA's Department of Film, she brought innovations to the Museum's auditorium exhibition programme, finding the right balance between programmes of classics and the more neglected contemporary works. She introduced new cinemas from Latin America and Europe to Amerian audiences. In the 1970s, she was involved in the selection of films for 'New Directors/New Films', the new annual festival presented by MoMA in association with the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 1977, she was promoted to the title of Curator in the MoMA Department of Film, a role kept until 1998.

Following her retirement from MoMA, she was hired by the Brooklyn Academy of Music to spearhead its movement into film programming. She was named curator-at-large for the newly opened four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas, a role she would retain until the early 2010s.

Adrienne Mancia served on a variety of international film juries, including those in Locarno, Vevey, Zagreb, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Naples and Cannes (Caméra d’Or). She was honoured by the governments of France (Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1984) and Italy (Croce della Republica, 1988) for her work in exhibiting foreign films in the U.S. In 2015, she was presented with the Jean Mitry Award by the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone.

When, in 1978, the MoMA Film Department was presented with an Oscar for the Museum’s "contributions to the public’s perception of movies as an art form", the then MoMA Director Richard E. Oldenburg said: "This award properly belongs to the members of the department throughout its history. From Iris Barry, its founder and first curator, through to the present: Eileen Bowser, Adrienne Mancia, Mary Lea Bandy and her colleagues. They have all had in common dedication, knowledge, and above all, sheer love of motion pictures." After Mary Lea Bandy in 2014 and Eileen Bowser in 2019, FIAF now mourns the loss of this third historical figure of MoMA - and our field - in less than a decade.

Christophe Dupin

Peter von Bagh, Adrienne Mancia, Freddy Buache, and Eileen Bowser at the 1979 FIAF Congress in Lausanne. Photo: André Chevailler / FIAF