Piers Handling, TIFF Director and CEO, Receives Order of Ontario

Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF
Congratulations are in order for Piers Handling the Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival! Handling received the Order of Ontario—the province’s highest honour—today for his significant contribution to the Canadian film industry. In a ceremony that also included Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg among the honorees, Handling received the distinction that “recognizes any current or former long-time resident of Ontario who has demonstrated a high level of individual excellence and achievement in any field benefiting the people of Ontario or anywhere in the world.”

Handling has been with the Toronto International FilmFestival since 1982 and has enjoyed the role of Director and CEO since 1994. The festival has strengthened the profiles for Canadian films and world cinema alike under Handling’s guidance. Handling also expanded TIFF’s reach and impact with the development of the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, which turns the festival’s mission to transform the way people see the world through film into a year-long celebration of cinema.

Chisanga Puta-Chekwe, Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, cited Handling’s commitment to both Canadian and international cinema, saying his “contribution to the positioning of the Canadian film industry as a significant international player is undeniable.” The ceremony also noted, “With a successful $196 million fundraising campaign in support of this project, Piers further expanded TIFF’s reach with the development of TIFF Bell Lightbox, a new state-of-the-art home for year-round festival programming, screenings, learning programs and more. Employing more than 150 full-time staff, TIFF has been named one of Greater Toronto’s top employers for seven consecutive years. The Festival has enhanced the status of Toronto as a world-class city.”

“I'm deeply honoured and touched,” said Handling in a statement released today by the festival. “My career has been full of excitement, challenges, passion, and unexpected turns. I have worked with many extraordinary people and I humbly share this award with all of them. Thank you Ontario.”

Before joining the Toronto International Film Festival in 1982, Handling served as the Deputy Director at the Canadian Film Institute and taught cinema at both Carleton University in Ottawa and Queen’s University in Kingston. His efforts have included extensive focus and support for Canadian cinema, although his role with the Toronto International Film Festival has enjoyed the greatest influence in giving Canadian cinema an international reach.