Roger Ebert was a fixture each September at the Toronto International Film Festival, and when word of his death broke Thursday, devastated festival-goers, officials and movie directors in the city took a moment to give a final thumbs up to the famed critic.
"Movies are human documents. They show us our soul. Roger Ebert taught me that. Rest in peace." Cameron Bailey, artistic director for TIFF, wrote on Twitter.
"No one loved movies more than Roger Ebert, to whom many filmmakers and some film festivals, principally Toronto, owe a great deal for his early enthusiastic and constantly loyal support," Helga Stephenson, chief executive officer of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, said in an email to The Canadian Press.
"Unbelievably prolific, Roger was a brilliant critic, an unabashed booster of his favourite films and talent, and a kid in the candy store all at the same time," continued Stephenson, a former head of the Toronto film festival.
"World cinema has lost its best friend."
Ebert attended the festival from its early days until recent years, when he could no longer speak after having his jaw removed from cancer surgery. He was often accompanied at press conferences by his wife Chaz.
"He put Toronto on the map," wrote Twitter user @polyergos.
"Roger Ebert loved coming to the Toronto film fest and we loved having him. He will be missed for this among many many reasons," added Twitter user @blm849.
Said captainpearson: "1 thing folks around here should remember about Roger Ebert is that he was a great promoter of the Toronto Film Festival and Toronto itself."
Although Ebert loved the fest, he was also not afraid to criticize it. His anger one year at being shut out of a screening ultimately led to changes in the way the festival was run.
Word of Ebert's death — reported by his employer, the Chicago Sun-Times — came two days after he announced on his blog that he was undergoing radiation treatment after a recurrence of cancer.
In a 2011 email interview with The Canadian Press for his memoir, "Life Itself," Ebert said he didn't fear death and that writing the book had made him reflect on what a wonderful life he'd had.
"At the time, it was simple a life — mine. Now I realize what good fortune I've had. And how many people helped me."