Francis Thompson Biography


Francis Thompson was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and began his career as a painter and art teacher before he completed his first piece of film, Evolution Of The Skyscraper. Thompson's multiscreen documentaries were pioneers of the large format IMAX. During his career he won an Academy Award in 1965 for best short documentary To Be Alive! Which gave a look into the lives of children in Africa, Italy and America. The mulitscreen projection of To Be Alive! inspired Canadian filmmakers who went on to create Imax films, to bring the audience in to the film. The film was also shown at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.

Thompson was very much in love with New York City and its culture so in 1957 he directed the movie N.Y., N.Y., an abstract look at a day in the life of the city and the general public of New York seen through distorted optic lenses, prisms and mirrors.

Francis Thompson died on December 26, 2003 in New York at the age of 95. Thompson was a member of the Directors Guild of America. He had a 50-year filmmaking career and retired from filmmaking in 1987 and retired to spend his latter years painting at his east Manhattan apartment. A true pioneer in the film industry he created unique and original pieces of art.

--David Simone, 2010.

Francis Thompson