Simon Weaving has left the Canberra International Film Festival.

Simon Weaving has left the Canberra International Film Festival. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberra's International Film Festival has lost its artistic director Simon Weaving, who has said he is unhappy with the festival's strategic direction.

Mr Weaving, who leaves the festival after four years in the artistic director's position, says he will set up a ''screen culture'' organisation for Canberra that will operate all year round.

The festival's president said the organisation has a strong strategic plan, one that is different from Mr Weaving's aspirations for the event.

Mr Weaving said he was proud of the festival's achievements but he wanted it to be an institution rather than an event.

''There are a lot of smaller groups and organisations that are doing stuff on the delivery or the content side of things so I saw a huge opportunity for the festival organisation to become more than just an event, more than something that happens once a year,'' he said.

''I felt very strongly that there was an opportunity to establish a more permanent organisation, work with other people and other groups and start delivering programs and engaging with the community all year round.

''For me, the festival organisation had reached a stage where it was financially sound and the environment was right, but not everyone shared that vision.''

This year's festival, held in October and November, has been the most successful, with more people seeing more films from more countries than at any time in the 16-year history of the festival. About 17,000 people attended the festival's 12 days, and 27 films had sell-out sessions.

But Mr Weaving said he had grown frustrated at a ''lack of vision''.

''All organisations need a strategic plan … and the organisation has no strategic plan, it just sort of goes from year to year,'' he said.

''For me, I'd just become increasingly uncomfortable about the lack of vision.''

The president of the festival Nicole Mitchell paid tribute to Mr Weaving's contribution.

''We'll miss him immensely. His contribution to the film festival has been fantastic over the past four years; he's been a really important member of the team,'' Ms Mitchell said.

''We were not aware that Simon was planning to resign so it was something as a surprise to us but we wish him all the best. He's going to undertake what sounds like a very ambitious endeavour.''

But Ms Mitchell said she disagreed with Mr Weaving's plans for the festival.

''We have a very strong strategic plan. I think the issue is that it's not Simon's strategic plan,'' she said. ''We've been working really hard to put the organisation in a new strategic position and we don't agree with the direction that Simon wished to take the organisation, which is a 12-month arts organisation.

''For us we have one mission, we have one role, and that is to mount an extraordinary film festival once a year.''