William Marshall, co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival (originally called Festival of Festivals), who died in June, was given appropriate tribute at this year’s event. The accolades not only came in recognition during speeches at opening night ceremonies. There was a brief film saluting Marshall shown at the start of every screening during the course of the event.
I knew Bill Marshall and recall the origins of the Toronto Festival. At a Cannes Film Festival one year, Bill, and co-founders Dusty Cohl and Henk Van der Kolk were sitting around on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel talking about the event and plans for it. In fact, I was asked then whether I would agree to chair so-called craft conferences at the Festival—panels covering various aspects of filmmaking. As it turned out, I did that for the Festival’s first two years.
All three of the co-founders were visionaries, determined to give Toronto a festival even though there were naysayers who said Toronto could never pull it off. Dusty died previously, and now Bill was gone. At the TIFF building, there is a Founder’s lounge with the pictures of all three co-founders on the wall. I had the pleasure of having drinks there this year with Henk and his wife, Yanka, who have remained my friends through the years, as were Bill and Dusty.
It gives me great satisfaction that TIFF, which has grown into one of the world’s greatest festivals, remembering the men who started it all. Too often such leaders are forgotten with the passage of time. But this year, we got to see Bill Marshall on film before each screening began. Hats off to TIFF—and to Dusty and Henk as well. Posted October 18, 2017.