Helen Cyr, Film Forum president and cultural force in Baltimore

July 20, 1993|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Staff Writer

Helen W. Cyr, the president of the Baltimore Film Forum and a longtime advocate for the art of film, died July 12 of kidney failure at her home in Roland Park.

Mrs. Cyr, 66, was also the chief of the Audio-Visual Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1972 until her retirement in 1988.

This spring, she gave tough, passionate testimony before the City Council against a state recommendation that would have eviscerated the Pratt's collection of 16-mm films in favor of videotapes. Yet, under her guidance, the library expanded its collection to include videotapes and other visual material. Mrs. Cyr also served as liaison between the Pratt and the city's cable television channel, helping to start "Flying Fables," a story-telling program for children.

Author of many professional articles, she also wrote a reference book, "The Third World in Film and Video."

She was a member of the board of the Educational Film Library Association and had chaired or served as a juror at its annual American Film and Video festivals.

She first served as president of the Film Forum, which sponsors the annual International Film Festival, from 1983 until 1988 and then again since 1991. This past year, despite her illness, she devoted much of her time to the Forum's 24th Baltimore Independent Film and Video Makers Competition. The forum's annual award to the best Maryland filmmaker is named the Helen Cyr Silver Reel Award.

The former Helen Wheeler was a native of Oakland, Calif., and was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned degrees in music and library science.

An accomplished pianist, she gave concerts with Gordon C. Cyr, a composer whom she married in 1951. Mr. Cyr, who survives her, is a retired Towson State University professor.

Mrs. Cyr also served as a teacher and librarian in Oakland public schools. After moving to Baltimore in 1971, she worked briefly as a librarian in the public schools.

A memorial service for Mrs. Cyr is to be conducted at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

It was suggested that memorial contributions could be made to Patient Services of the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore, the Audio Visual Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, or the Baltimore Film Forum, which has established a fund in her memory.

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