Michele Maheux is stepping down as executive director and chief operating officer of the Toronto International Film Festival. She has set summer of 2019 as her retirement date and will spend the coming months helping to ease the way for her successor.
The move comes at a time of great change for a fall festival that is considered to be a prime stop for any film in the awards race. In July, CEO Piers Handling announced that after 23 years, the 2018 festival will be his last. His job will essentially be split in two. Cameron Bailey, a longtime festival hand, has been promoted to the newly created position of artistic director and co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival. The other lead position will be an executive director, who will concentrate on the organization’s business and funding needs, much as Maheux did for decades. An announcement about who will fill that role is expected to be made prior to the festival’s September launch.
Maheux has been with the festival for 30 years. She played a key role in helping create TIFF Bell Lightbox, the organization’s year-round theater.
“Michele has been my longtime advisor, confidante, and friend,” Handling said in a statement. “She is the engine that has kept TIFF running for decades, and her passion and dedication to film, the arts, and most importantly, the staff, is second to none. We have been in the trenches together for a lifetime and there are no words to express how grateful I am for all her years of support, laughter, and impeccable work.”
Maheux will continue in her current role until November, at which point she will focus on the transition.