Ramiro Puerta, a long-time programmer and staff member of the Toronto International Film Festival died on Friday, Jan. 4. A filmmaker, musician, actor and impresario, he was 48.

A native of Colombia, Puerta studied acting at the Mountview Theatre School in London and then moved to Toronto in 1980 where he acted in theatre, radio, television and film. His love of music led him to form the popular salsa band, "Ramiro's Latin Orchestra," in 1988, which subsequently recorded two CDs.

That same year, Puerta joined the festival as a translator and airport driver. By 1991, Puerta he was programming films and by 1999 was programming all Spanish-language and Latin American films for the festival. Recent programming highlights included Lovers Of The Arctic Circle and Calle 54. Last year, in recognition of his support of Brazilian culture and cinema, he was awarded the Southern Coss, the highest civilian honour bestowed to a non-Brazilian.

Puerta produced and directed various short films throughout his career, most recently the semi auto-biographical The Topic Of Cancer.