Sheila Whittaker was an influential film programmer, cultural producer and one of the founding board members of the Palestine Festival of Literature.
She was the head of programming at the National Film Theatre in London from 1984 and oversaw the expansion of the London Film Festival into a significant international festival with a broad public appeal. She widened the scope of the films programmed, and with it the kind of films exposed to the pre-internet London of the 1990s. She wrote books on Argentinian and Iranian cinema, and was headhunted to help establish the Dubai Film Festival in the early 2000s.
She was a firm supporter of Palestine and was instrumental in establishing the festival in its early years. She died, aged 77, in 2013.