Toronto International Film Festival Director and CEO Piers Handling says 2018 will be his final year at the helm of TIFF after nearly 25 years at the pivotal event. This year marks the 42nd iteration of the annual event, which is one of the signature awards season kick-offs each September.

“Because of Piers’ leadership, TIFF is the leading cultural organization it is today, with a global reach and impact,” TIFF Chair of the Board of Directors Jennifer Tory said. “We are all indebted to him for his years of vision, innovation and dedication to the art of film.”

Over the coming months, the TIFF board  will begin the process of identifying and selecting a new CEO. Handling leaves big shoes to fill. Among his many accomplishments are growing TIFF from a 10-day event into a thriving year-round arts organization and helping to establish the the careers of filmmakers including David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Denis Villeneuve, Kathryn Bigelow, Alfonso Cuarón, Steven Soderbergh and many others.

“I joined the festival in 1982 and have been CEO for the past 23 years. I am incredibly proud of the legacy we have achieved during that time. I am completely confident in the future of TIFF. It is now one of the most important film organizations in the world,” said Handling. “We have an exciting and bold new strategic plan — Audience First. 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.”

In recognition of his achievements, Handling has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada as well as France’s highest cultural insignia “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.” He also holds five Honorary Doctorates from the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, Ryerson University, York University and OCAD University.