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 $40 million annual operating budget and employs more than 150 full-time staff. For the last five years, TIFF has been named one of the Greater Toronto Area’s Top 50 employers.
Under Handling’s direction, the organization has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural institution. In 2010 TIFF opened its own permanent home which presents daily programming. TIFF Bell Lightbox, houses five cinemas, two exhibition galleries, and educational and learning studios. He led the $196 million fundraising campaign.
Handling has curated numerous film retrospectives and presented programmes of Canadian cinema at The Sundance Film Festival, the British Film Institute, the Havana Film Festival and sat on festival juries including Cannes, Tokyo, Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Torino, and Istanbul. In 2013, Handling co-curated a mutli-platform celebration of iconic Canadian director David Cronenberg. The Cronenberg Project included a comprehensive film exhibition, a virtual museum, an art exhibition presented in partnership with the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, and two original publications celebrating the film and art exhibitions.
Prior to joining the Toronto International Film Festival in 1982, 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 and edited numerous books.
Handling has been honoured with the “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres,” France’s highest cultural insignia. In 2003, he was named CEO of the Year by the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto). He holds three Honorary Doctorates from Ryerson University, York University and OCAD University; and has sat on a number of Boards and advisory councils including FAME (Festivals and Major Events), the Canadian Film Centre, Tafelmusik, Luminato, Telefilm Canada’s Feature Film Advisory Committee, Ontario’s Minister of Culture’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture (MACAC) and most recently, The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation. In September of 2012, Handling was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley and the Countess of Wessex during a ceremony at Queen’s Park, and was inducted into the Playback Hall of Fame for his significant role in building the film industry in Canada.
In January 2014, Handling was invested into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour, by Lieutenant Governor David Onley.