Skip to main content

Timothy J. Lyons—A Remembrance 1945-2001

By Gordon Hitchens

With much regret, I write this farewell to Tim Lyons, dear friend and former editor of International Documentary. I was one of his writers, specializing in foreign and domestic documentary film festivals. Our working relationship lasted about three years, until his departure, which I protested vigorously, but in vain. After that, until his death, we kept in touch by phone and letter and by exchange of materials, at times. He was a special bloke. I miss him now and will remember him for that special comradeship between writer and editor.

Often the writer is impulsive and extravagant, the editor rational, patient and implacable. As ID's editor, Tim often moderated my excessive judgments about particular films, but only when he felt it necessary, as strong editors do. Friction? Of course. But also he could yield—at times. Our mutual good will, our shared sense of humor, our separate specializations in literature and in cinema, our history of attendance at those academic congresses (we were each professors of cinema in earlier incarnations) —all that overcame our occasions of dispute.

I was experienced with film journalism, as founder of Film Comment and its editor for seven years. Thus, Tim knew my earlier work and could tolerate my moments of dispute—indeed, they were more than moments. His principal complaint was that I was too often late with my promised materials. At such times—alas, too often—I felt his acerbic wit and colorful vocabulary. The editor-writer relationship is a special equation— some say love/hate. I'll buy that. Although Tim and I wrangled, mainly we got along, eased by bawdy jokes, good will and our mutual desire to turn out the best possible documentary film magazine.

-Gordon Hitchens