Piers Handling will be leaving his post as director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at the end of 2018. His coming departure was announced on Saturday (Sept. 2), with the 42nd edition of the festival to begin this week (Sept. 7).
Handling joined the festival in 1982 and has held the CEO post for the past 23 years.
During his 25-year tenure, Handling led and contributed to the brand’s expansion from an annual festival to a year-round arts organization, most notably campaigning to design, fund, and erect TIFF Bell Lightbox, the organization’s brick-and-mortar facility in downtown Toronto. The Lightbox hosts screenings and events year-round.
Handling is also credited with supporting the careers of a range of Canadian and international filmmakers, including Kathryn Bigelow, David Cronenberg, Pedro Almodóvar, Xavier Dolan and Jennifer Baichwal.
“Because of Piers’ leadership, TIFF is the leading cultural organization it is today, with a global reach and impact,” said Jennifer Tory, chair of the Board of Directors with TIFF, in a statement. “We are all indebted to him for his years of vision, innovation, and dedication to the art of film.”
In 2018, TIFF will implement a new initiative titled “Audience First.” Its strategies include educational and online programs with the aim of enriching the viewing experiences of TIFF’s year-round audiences. Handling will oversee the first stages of the initiative’s rollout in the coming year.
“While I am excited about what the future holds in store for me, my immediate focus remains leading this wonderful organization through to the end of 2018, and ensuring that TIFF continues to inspire audiences and celebrate the riches of cinema from all over the globe,” he said, in a statement.
TIFF’s Board of Directors will begin the selection process for a new CEO over the coming months.