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Piers Handling

Piers Handling

Western Europe, Italy, Poland, USA


Calgary—although I never lived there, and I feel in my bones that Toronto and London, England are really my hometowns. Ottawa would be there somewhere as well!

Programming for the Festival since:

Desert-island films:
Le Mépris
Au hasard Balthazar
The Searchers
The Great Dictator

Your favourite Festival programmer who is not you:
Dimitri, because he has superb taste for the cinema I admire.

The strangest place you've ever watched a film:
Agnès Varda’s living room, with Agnès reading the voiceover for her film as it was projected on to her wall.

What do you do for the rest of the year when you aren't programming for the Festival?
I run TIFF—so, planning, budgeting, managing growth and future projects. In my spare time I hike, ski, read, listen to music, go to concerts and travel lots.

Don't tweet—waiting for the next breakthrough.

Western Europe, Italy, Poland, USA


Piers Handling is the Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF. He has held this position since 1994, responsible for leading both the operational and artistic growth of the organization. TIFF has a $33 million annual operating budget and employs more than 150 full-time staff. For the last three years, TIFF has been named one of the Greater Toronto Area’s Top 50 employers.

Under his direction, the organization has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural institution which has just successfully opened TIFF Bell Lightbox, a permanent home for all of TIFF's year-round film programming: film screenings, an exhibitions gallery and a variety of educational and learning programmes. He led the $196 million fundraising campaign in support of this project.

Prior to joining the Toronto International Film Festival in 1982, Mr. Handling began his career at the Canadian Film Institute (CFI), ultimately becoming Deputy Director. After leaving the CFI, he taught Canadian cinema at Carleton University in Ottawa and Queen’s University in Kingston. He has published extensively on Canadian cinema.

Mr. Handling is currently Chair of FAME (Festivals and Major Events), sits on the Board of the Canadian Film Centre, and is a member of the Minister of Culture’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture (MACAC). Previously he was on the Board of Tafelmusik and Luminato. He has been honoured with the “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres”, France’s highest cultural insignia. In 2003, Handling was named CEO of the Year by the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto), recognizing for the first time, a CEO from the cultural not-for-profit sector. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Ryerson University. In 2011, Mr. Handling was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from York University and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from OCAD University.