Former TIFF Director Noah Cowan Dies at 55

The Hamilton-born programmer died of glioblastoma multiforme
Former TIFF Director Noah Cowan Dies at 55
Photo: EA.sffilm
Noah Cowan, former Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) co-director and executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, has died, Deadline reports. He was 55.

Cowan died of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer he was diagnosed with in December 2021. He's survived by husband John O'Rourke, parents Nuala FitzGerald Cowan and Edgar Cowan,  brothers Brian FitzGerald (Diane) and Tim FitzGerald (Sandi), as well as several nieces, nephews and other extended family.

Cowan was born on July 22, 1967, in Hamilton. He first joined TIFF as a box office staffer in 1984, after volunteering with the festival in the summer of 1981. Cowan went on to run its print traffic department ahead of becoming a programmer of TIFF's Midnight Madness in 1989.

He was then promoted to Program Administrator in 1992, later serving as TIFF's international programmer from 1997 to 2001 — a time during which he worked his way up the ranks from associate director of programming to associate director. After leaving the fest in 2001, Cowan returned three years later as co-director until 2008. From 2008 to 2013, he served as artistic director of TIFF's Bell Lightbox.

He would go on as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society (SFFILM) for five years before founding his own company, Noah Cowan Consulting. Its roster included the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Telluride Film Festival.

Plans for a memorial are expected to be announced soon. Donations can also be made to TIFF Cinematheque and MoMA's Department of Film in Cowan's memory.