Which festivals do you rate highly and enjoy visiting' On that basis, what makes a strong festival'

Of the big festivals, I love going to Cannes and Berlin. You know you are going to see a wide range of new films, and reconnect with many friends in the international film industry.

Cannes really stresses the art of cinema and is very important for us, as we invite films from it. Berlin is a good place to see more esoteric work, and it's where we set up the coming festival. We meet with sales agents and producers here to gauge work that will be ready in September. Sadly, I have never been to Venice because its dates are so close to ours, which makes it impossible.

Of the smaller festivals, Rotterdam and Turin are exemplary. They both concentrate on discovering new talent and the selection feels very personal. Pusan is quite amazing and I admire their focus on Asian cinema; their mission is very clear. I have a soft spot for Havana because of the atmosphere. It's fun, full of committed film-makers and you can relate to their struggle to make cinema that matters. I went to Sundance for many years; it's hard to argue with an event that combines film with skiing, although there's much less skiing than there used to be - it's far too busy. The Festival du Nouveau Cinema et de la Video in Montreal is small, manageable and I love the selection.

The blueprint is simple: strong and interesting programming. I want to see strong work and what this means differs from festival to festival, depending on their mandate and what they are trying to do. I want to learn something from the programming I am exposed to.

Which recent film-making debuts have grabbed your attention' How about curves from established names'

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives Of Others was very impressive. Of the establishment, Hou Hsaio-hsien and Jia Zhang-ke continue to make extraordinary films. Agnes Varda and Werner Herzog have found new life in the documentary form, and it's interesting that Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme are moving in this direction. Ken Loach continues to astound me. Alexander Sokurov's work is highly distinctive. The Dardenne brothers are a strong influence on young film-makers. Jacques Rivette's last film, The Duchess Of Langeais, was very good.

Looking back over your time at Tiff, is there a film you are particularly proud of introducing to North American audiences' Why'

There are so many. We opened Tiff with Dead Ringers and despite the controversy over that screening I think the film is a masterpiece. Bringing the Decalogue to Toronto was pretty special - when Krzysztof Kieslowski came he was an unknown in North America. When he left 10 days later, his reputation had been made. I loved The Lives Of Others and knew that whoever was lucky enough to sit at its first screening here was in for a special moment. Screening Atom Egoyan's first film, Next Of Kin, was another moment I will always remember. Of the directors, unquestionably Pedro Almodovar, Aki Kaurismaki, Nanni Moretti...

What are you most looking forward to about this year's festival'

Surprising people with the quality of unknown films. A good example is the Bosnian film Snow. I love hosting as well - meeting so many wonderful film-makers from around the world, many whom I know well, and others who are coming for the first time.