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Bill Marshall, Toronto International Film Festival Co-Founder, Dies at 77

Marshall helped bring TIFF to the world in 1976.

Bill Marshall, who co-founded the Toronto International Film Festival in 1976, passed away yesterday at the age of 77. TIFF — known back then as the Festival of Festivals and co-founded by Henk Van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl — announced the unforunate news in a statement, which included thoughts from Marshall’s family. He died early on January 1 from cardiac arrest.

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“In a very real way Bill was in the business of making dreams become reality and he continued doing so to the very end with several new projects in development,” reads a portion of the statement from Marshall’s family. “Now, as the house lights dim, friends and family will remember and honour Bill as a first rate raconteur, famous for his honesty, keen mind and wry humour.” Born in Scotland in 1939, Marshall made his way to what became his adoptive homeland in 1955; once there, he became a “proud Canadian” and was eventually named Member of the Order of Canada.

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“Without his tenacity and dedication, the Toronto International Film Festival would not be among the most influential public cultural festivals today,” writes TIFF director & CEO Piers Handling. The most recent edition of the festival, its 41st overall, took place between September 8 — 18 and ended with “La La Land” winning the Grolsch People’s Choice Award.

“We were so fortunate to have Bill serve as one of our greatest champions for forty-one years,” continues Handling. “Our thoughts are with his wife Sari Ruda, his children Lee, Stephen and Shelagh, his six grandchildren and their family and friends.”

Bill Marshall

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