It’s a time of change for the Toronto International Film Festival, as one of the world’s premiere platforms for Oscar contenders overhauls its leadership ranks.
Joana Vicente has been named as the new executive director and co-head of the prestigious gathering. She joins Cameron Bailey, who was previously promoted to artistic director and co-head of TIFF. The two will divide responsibilities. Bailey will focus more on the organization’s programming choices, while Vicente will oversee business operations. They replace Piers Handling, who is stepping down as CEO of TIFF after being at its helm for 23 years.
“I’ve always looked to TIFF as a prominent international platform for world cinema, with an impact that is both local and global,” Vicente said in a statement. “Cameron’s artistic vision is inspiring and I look forward to working with him and with the passionate team at TIFF to expand the organization at an exciting moment in our ever-changing media landscape.”
Vicente is well versed in the film community, having previously served as executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP). The non-profit organization is a support system for indie talent, advising them on projects, connecting them with distributors, and highlighting their work through screening programs and Filmmaker Magazine. The group also puts on the Gotham Awards and successfully advocated for the creation of the Made in NY Media Center, a co-working space and exhibition venue that currently operates in Brooklyn.
She also boasts first-hand experience having produced over 40 films, including “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” as well as founding three production companies. One part of her resume will be particularly helpful as TIFF becomes more globally focused. Vicente speaks five languages.
In a statement, board head Jennifer Tory said the TIFF hiring committee was “deeply impressed with Joana’s combined history as a ￼producer, a champion of independent filmmakers, and with her success in fundraising and partnerships.”
This year’s TIFF will run from Sept. 6 through Sept. 16 and will feature a number of Oscar contenders, including Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born,” and Steve McQueen’s “Widows.”