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In this file photo from 2011, TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall (left) and Perry Rosemond are pictured at the 2011 Gilda's Awards at the Fairmont Royal York. Marshall died of cardiac arrest on Jan. 1, 2017.

JJ Thompson/The Globe and Mail

Bill Marshall, a co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, has died.

Marshall's family issued a written statement saying he died in Toronto of a cardiac arrest on New Year's Day.

He was 77.

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Marshall founded TIFF in 1976 with two colleagues, and served as the organization's director in its first three years, according to the current TIFF director and CEO.

Piers Handling says Marshall helped build the festival into one of "the most influential public cultural festivals today."

Marshall's family said in its statement that he was a visionary in the Canadian film industry, and was also deeply involved in Toronto's political landscape, serving as a campaign manager and chief of staff for three of the city's past mayors.

They're remembering him for his "honesty, keen mind and wry humour."

The family said it will release information about the memorial service once it's finalized.

Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement saying that Marshall always "thought big."

"We were the winners thanks to his creativity and determination," Tory said in a statement released Sunday.

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