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.
“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.
“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.”