Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017
Toronto International Film Fest Founder Bill Marshall dies at 77
William Marshall (photo courtesy of Paul Alexander)
  • TORONTO
  • --

The family of William (Bill) Marshall, founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, announced that he died today (1/1/17) at the age of 77.

He passed away early this morning from a cardiac arrest while in hospital in Toronto, the city where he made such an impact.

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

As much as Marshall loved and cherished the arts, he 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.  Marshall 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.

Marshall was a visionary in the Canadian film industry, producing 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, Marshall 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.

In a very real way Marshall was in the business of making dreams become reality and he continued doing so to the very end with several new projects in development.  Now, as the house lights dim, friends and family will remember and honor him as a first rate raconteur, famous for his honesty, keen mind and wry humor.

Details for a proper send-off are in process and will be communicated once finalized.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) released a statement which read: “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.”