As the Toronto International Film Festival ramps up preparations for this September’s 47th annual edition – featuring more venues, more in-person screenings, more films and fewer virtual options than the past two years – the organization announced a handful of high-profile changes to its leadership team Thursday.
Beth Janson, chief executive of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, will be joining TIFF as the institution’s first chief operating officer, while Anita Lee, executive producer for the National Film Board of Canada’s Ontario studio and founder of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, will become TIFF’s first chief programming officer.
“Beth and Anita are two of Canada’s most accomplished, impressive film executives,” TIFF chief executive Cameron Bailey said in a statement. “Their ideas, leadership and passion for the transformative power of film will fill key roles for the organization and add to an already outstanding TIFF team.”
Janson, who recently wrapped production on the Canadian Academy’s 10th annual Canadian Screen Awards, will join TIFF May 20, while Lee joins effective immediately, with both reporting directly to Bailey. According to TIFF, Janson will oversee operations and revenue, with Lee focused on delivering an “audience-focused, strategically cohesive and financially sustainable programming framework” that serves the organization’s mission and strategy – one that is currently being fine-tuned as Bailey and his team prepare to implement a new three-year strategic plan. Douglas Allison remains TIFF’s chief financial officer.
Meanwhile, TIFF announced another new position, chief of staff, which will be filled by Laura Ryan, the organization’s long-time vice-president of operations and event production.
“In her eight years at TIFF, Laura has learned the organization top to bottom. She’ll be an important partner as we continue to respond to the challenges of the pandemic and pursue new strategic goals for our future,” said Bailey. “With her in this key role and Anita and Beth joining the senior team, this group of leaders stands ready to deliver on TIFF’s mission and strategy.”
As to the timing of the three newly created positions, Bailey said in an e-mail to The Globe that “it’s a combination of updating senior roles that had been empty while also increasing the time I can devote to keeping TIFF current with what’s next.”
Thursday’s organizational announcements follow news earlier this month that TIFF’s 2022 edition will be a largely in-person affair after two pandemic-era “hybrid” editions. Screenings this September will be held at the Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Cineplex Scotiabank and first-time TIFF venue the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
“We’re not going to do online like the last two years,” Bailey said earlier this month, during TIFF’s first in-person press event in more than two years. “But we did learn things. So we have a digital platform year-round, and for festival time, we want to have offerings there. It won’t be the full festival, but a sampling.”
This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 8-18.
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