Jess Search Dies: Doc Society Co-Founder Was 54

Jess Search, a British documentary veteran who co-founded the Doc Society, has died aged 54 from brain cancer.

Search’s death was announced in a Doc Society statement yesterday, which said she had died peacefully surrounded by the love of her life Beadie Finzi, their children Ella and Ben, and friends.

The statement called Search a “beloved partner and parent, a brilliant friend, an industry catalyst, master campaigner, consummate producer, preternatural public convener, and mentor to many.”

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“Jess leaves a global family who we know will continue to speak out on injustice, challenge the status quo and live lives of purpose with love in their hearts,” it added. “We consider ourselves to be ‘Lucky F***ers’ to stand beside all of you.”

Search announced that she had a brain tumour several weeks ago, at which point she unveiled the Independence Project – a global research project to “fully articulate the unique and vital contribution to society, culture and democracy of independent film.” She called for the creation of a manifesto and to directly demand the support we need from distributors, funders and commissioners to help us build a new, equitable, and politically protected indie media distribution system.

The former Channel 4 Commissioning Editor founded Doc Society almost 20 years ago, at which point it was called the Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation. She was also the co-founder of Shooting People, an online filmmakers community.

The Doc Society funded and developed documentary film along with promoting good ethics in the genre and hosting events. High-profile credits included Oscar-winning Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour and Kathryn Ferguson’s Nothing Compares about Sinead O’Connor.

The Doc Society’s note yesterday described Search as a “fierce supporter of independent artists.”

“Her greatest wish was to continue to secure the Doc Society mission of unleashing the transformational power of documentary film to address the two critical and intertwined issues of climate change and democracies in crisis,” it added.

Search is survived by partner Beadie Finzi and their children Ella and Ben.

A post shared by Doc Society (@thedocsociety)

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