Mark Sarfaty, chief executive of the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia, has passed away.

The announcement was made late last night (Wednesday) by the ICAA Board.

“Mark has been a wonderful CEO and will be sadly missed by the board and the people he touched throughout the industry,” the statement said.

“Mark fought tirelessly for independent cinemas, with a vision and perseverance seldom encountered. He was a fierce competitor and [a] talented, intelligent leader.

“He has inspired us greatly; we are thankful to have had his leadership during the challenges of recent times and we will continue his work in improving the future competitiveness of independent cinema in Australia.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and especially with his daughter Matilda.”

He had been the chief executive of ICAA since August, 2007.

Sarfaty, a former IF Magazine contributor, dedicated his life to media and film distribution/exhibition. He was even a former journalist at Rolling Stone.

At the turn of the century, Sarfaty became the head of Dendy Cinemas before resigning in 2007. He was appointed chief executive of the Sydney Film Festival in mid-2008, and reduced the length of the 2009 festival from 19 to 12 days – increasing daily attendance by almost 40 per cent on the previous year. He stepped down in August, 2009.

Sarfaty was co-chair of the Australian Cinema Exhibitors Coalition (ACEC), however its functions were largely replaced following the launch of the National Association of Cinema Operators (NACO).

Representing ICAA, he was instrumental in implementing digital projection strategies and was in negotiations with US studios to create a Virtual Print Fee (VPF) agreement for the local independent sector. He told IF in late-August that the ICAA had completed negotiations with a second distributor following the initial deal struck with Paramount in February this year.

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 8:  While a private family funeral will be held, a public tribute to Mark Sarfaty will take place on Friday, December 2 at 1.30pm (for a 2pm start). The tribute, remembering his life and achievements, will be held at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, 380 Military Road, Cremorne, NSW. It is asked that guests RSVP for catering purposes, to Pauline Negline, either by email or phone [(02) 9858 1179]. 

IF encourages you to post a comment, remembering the late Mark Sarfaty.

The late Mark Sarfaty

Join the Conversation


  1. This news is truly shocking, thoughts and prayers go out to Marks family and friends.
    He will be sorely missed by the industry and in particular, by independent exhibitors. He has been a voice of reason and instigator of integral changes that are going to allow indies to continue to be competitive in a quickly changing marketplace. Vale Mark.

  2. Mark, you were a true and talented leader. You have left us in a better place. You gave us confidence. You made Governments take notice. Rest in peace. Bob Parr

  3. My parter Mary and I are in total shock and we are struggling to come to grips with the news that Mark has died. Mark and Matilda were a huge part our lives when they lived in Beeson Street Leichhardt. We have so many memories of Mark – especially around our kitchen table with a good bottle of wine. Our hearts go out to Matilda and Mark’s family. Mark had such a strong presence that this just seems surreal. Mark was passionate about his work and this is a great blow to the Australian film industry. RIP Mark

  4. Mark you know how I felt about you. I am deeply sad you are not here anymore. Thank you for your support and encouragement and thank you for teaching me the business. Thank you for your friendship and the many laughs we have had over the years. The world is smaller without you. Thinking of you Matilda and sending my thoughts to you and your family.

  5. How totally shocking. He was so young. What a great loss. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

  6. What a huge and tragic loss for the industry. You were always there to help when needed. So sad. The Management at the Ritz will miss you dearest Mark.

  7. Mark, you were always one of the good guys. A sad day for an industry that don’t typically breed good guys. A true talent and leader. Our thoughts are on your smile and your family. RIP – All of us at Wingman Pictures.

  8. RIP Mark. It was a great privilege to work closely alongside you for the past 5 years. We have lost a great advocate for independent cinema, a wonderful man and a very dear friend. Your colleagues are committed to ensuring your significant legacy lives on. Our thoughts are with Matilda, Kylie and the rest of the family. You are a tragic loss on both a personal and a professonal level – Kieren Dell, CEO, Majestic Cinemas and ICAA President.

  9. Vale Mark… thanks for the good times, the good debates and being a trooper. My thoughts are with Matilda. You will be missed. Jacqui

  10. Mark you gave me so much and I am so grateful to have known you and for the time we spent together…I am just so so sad that your life has been cut short and for Matilda not being able to have you in her life.

    I found a letter last night you had written to me during a bit of a difficult time- here is some of it below;

    “I do like to think that the world is a fundamentally good place and that people are fundamentally good too. In my view of things most people want to be nice to each other and the only thing that gets in the way of that happening is fear, uncertainty, prejudice. I feel that happiness resides within us as individuals and that as individuals our responsibility to ourselves is to strive towards that happiness in harmony with the rest of the world around us.”
    You were a blessing to those around you and much loved. May you rest in peace.

  11. 25 years ago Mark didn’t impress me much, coming into my great friend Felicity’s life with his sarcasm and dark wit. But the birth of Matilda was huge for him, and for me his response to family life made it impossible not to care for the man. Mark, thanks for caring for Felicity. Thanks for being everything for Matilda after her mother was gone. And thanks for proving me wrong.

  12. Mark Sarfaty, you gave me and our film THE BET a shot in 2007 at Dendy cinemas. I will never forget that and will always be grateful. Your passing is a loss to the Australian film industry. Condolences to your family and friends. Caroline Gerard

  13. Mark
    It came as a big surprise to hear about your passing. You were a very dedicated man and pasisonate about the film industry and thought you would be in the industry forever. You had a natural ability to see problems before they arised and would quickly detail each problem with the best way forward. If I gave you a problem I never had to think about things because you liked gathering the information and solving them. You will be a loss that he film industry will not be able to fill and a rare talent in both passion,thinking, speaking and writing.

  14. I don’t know what to say. I wouldn’t be where I am without you. “Thanks” doesn’t cut it. You’re a great man … it was an honour and privilege. My thoughts are with Mat & family.

  15. Only just heard. What a sad loss. Condolences to family. Only met Mark once but looked forward to hearing more of his life stories, may be gone mate, but you will never be forgotten

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