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Remembering Bill Marshall


(January 1, 2017 – Toronto, ON) The family of Bill Marshall, founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, has announced his passing earlier today from a cardiac arrest while in hospital in Toronto. He was 77.

Marshall immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland in 1955 and was a proud Canadian and a Member of the Order of Canada, an honour he received for his many contributions to the arts.

In addition to his dedication to the arts, Marshall also played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of Toronto, where he served as campaign manager and Chief of Staff for 3 different Toronto Mayors. He was a trusted advisor to many senior politicians in Canada and the United States and his legacy continued with his recent support of current Toronto Mayor, John Tory.

Considered a visionary in the Canadian film industry, Marshall produced 13 feature films, including the award-winning Outrageous, along with hundreds of documentaries. He was an accomplished writer, journalist, novelist and speech writer to royalty and heads of state. He also produced numerous live theatre productions, including the Toronto production of the hit musical Hair.

As an industry leader, he was a driving force behind the establishment of numerous industry organizations, including the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, The Toronto Film and Television Office, and was past President of the Canadian Association of Motion Picture Producers. More recently he was the man behind the Niagara Integrated Film Festival, which he launched in 2013, but he will always be remembered for being a cofounder of the Festival of Festivals which grew up to become the Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF issued a special statement earlier today:

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and TIFF Chair Emeritus Bill Marshall.

Founder of the Festival of Festivals in 1976 (along with Co-Founders Henk Van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl), Bill was also the organization’s Director in its first three years. 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. 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.

Piers Handling
Director & CEO, TIFF