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Bill Marshall, TIFF Founder, Dies at 77

Toronto International Film Festival’s retired chairman suffered cardiac arrest

Toronto International Film Festival founder Bill Marshall died early Sunday morning in a Toronto hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 77.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and TIFF Chair Emeritus Bill Marshall,” festival director and CEO Piers Handling said on Sunday. “He was a pioneer in the Canadian film industry and his vision of creating a public festival that would bring the world to Toronto through the transformative power of cinema stands today as one of his most significant legacies.”

“Without his tenacity and dedication, the Toronto International Film Festival would not be among the most influential public cultural festivals today,” Handling continued. “We were so fortunate to have Bill serve as one of our greatest champions for forty-one years. Our thoughts are with his wife Sari Ruda, his children Lee, Stephen and Shelagh, his six grandchildren and their family and friends.”

Marshall came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland in 1955. He was eventually proudly named a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the arts, which included producing 13 feature films, hundreds of documentaries, and a number of live theater productions. He also had quite the impact on Toronto’s political scene, serving as campaign manager and chief of staff for three different Toronto mayors.

“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,” his family said in a statement. “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.”

Funeral arrangements are still being finalized.