Film / Animation / Video


Bo Smith

Bo Smith led the Film Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for 21 years (1987–2008). During this time, he originated and supervised the production of numerous film festivals, including the Boston French Film Festival (starting in 1996), the Boston Jewish Film Festival (starting in 1989), the Boston LGT Film & Video Festival (at the MFA starting in 1991), the Boston Festival of Films from Iran (starting in 1995), the Boston African Film Festival (starting in 2000), Boston Human Rights Watch Film Festival (starting in 2001) and the Boston Turkish Film Festival (starting in 2003). In addition to festivals, the MFA Film Program was distinguished for its attention to presenting the work of New England film artists and presenting widely varied films on art and artists. During each of the final 10 years of Smith’s tenure at the MFA, he oversaw the presentation of over 700 programs with audience totals surpassing 70,000 annually. Many of these programs featured post-screening discussions with such guest artists as Alan Arkin, Stockard Channing, Chen Kaige, Chow Yun-Fat, Merce Cunningham, Carlos Diegues, Henry Louis Gates, Peter Greenaway, Ed Harris, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Sandrine Kiberlain, Julian Schnabel, Liv Ullmann and Melvin Van Peebles. While at the MFA, Smith also oversaw concerts featuring a wide array of artists including They Might Be Giants and mǔm.

Recognizing his accomplishments on behalf of French cinema, the French government awarded Smith The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in 2000. The previous year, Women in Film & Video New England bestowed on Smith its annual Image Award for advancing the image of women. 

In addition to his work as a film programmer, Smith is also a film teacher. He has taught classes at RISD since 1996, taught at Boston College for eight years (2001–08) and was part of Boston University’s Teachers as Scholars program.

Prior to his role at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Smith was director of exhibitions at Film in the Cities in St. Paul, MN (1981–87), the country’s leading media arts center during the 1980s. Included among his many guests were Martin Sheen with the area premiere of Emile de Antonio’s In the King of Prussia and Ed Harris with the area premiere of Victor Nunez’s A Flash of Green. From 1978–81, he was in charge of semi-theatrical distribution for Unifilm (formerly Tricontinental Film Center) in the San Francisco office. He is now the curator of film emeritus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, regularly lectures at the Shawnee Town Museum and works as an independent consultant for art museums across the US.