BCNM Mourns the Passing of Beth Bird

21 Apr, 2021

BCNM Mourns the Passing of Beth Bird

November 24, 1966-March 28, 2021

We mourn the passing of Elizabeth (Beth) R. Bird on March 28, 2021 at the age of 54. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Beth lived for 10 years in New York City after college and then for 20 years in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Beth lit up the room with her enthusiasm for life and intense energy. She will be remembered for her fierce independence, love of life and deep commitment to friends and family. A graduate of Germantown Friends School, Philadelphia (1985), Brown University, Providence (BA 1990) and the California Institute for the Arts, Los Angeles (MFA 2003) she also studied in UC Irvine's Department of Art (1999-2000) and was pursuing a PhD in UC Berkeley's Department of Film & Media (2016-2020) with a DE in New Media.

Beth was a scholar, educator, filmmaker, and activist, whose life path and achievements were deeply informed by Quaker values and Buddhist practices. She was a life-long member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a practitioner and instructor of Sivananda Yoga. An inspiring teacher, for more than twenty years she taught courses on film, media and art history at UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, California College of the Arts and San Francisco Art Institute, among others. She was passionate about the intersection of media and social issues, especially immigration rights. Having spent a summer in Mexico during high school, and, later, a year in Colombia and Peru in college, she developed a special connection to the struggles of disenfranchised peoples throughout Latin America. As a filmmaker, she is best known for her feature-length documentary, "Everyone Their Grain of Sand," (2004), which examines the impact of globalization on land ownership in northern Mexico, with a focus on Tijuana's Maclovio Rojas community. The film won several awards including the Target Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival. An early proponent of marriage equality, Beth toured the country during the mid-1990s, with her advocacy video "Love Knows No Borders," (1995), which features transnational LGBTQ+ couples discussing the discrimination of US marriage laws. Beth also worked as a producer for documentary film and television and served on the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (2007-2015). Some of Beth's happiest moments were spent in Vermont, either at the family summer house or the nearby Farm & Wilderness Summer Camp. She had a deep connection with the natural world and was an avid hiker, birder and cross-country skier. Beth was deeply devoted to her son Mateus. She will be remembered for her strength and determination, her integrity and dedication to honesty, both in herself and others. She will be deeply missed.

Beth is survived by her wife Betti-Sue Hertz, son Mateus Zacharia Hertz-Bird, brother Timothy Lyman Bird (Rebecca MacDonald) and nieces Siena Rose MacDonald Bird and Grace Elizabeth Stanton Bird.