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Sundance Institute announces new CEO

Joana Vicente scheduled to start in November

Former Toronto International Film Festival Executive Director Joana Vicente has been selected as the Sundance Institute’s new CEO. Vicente will start in her new position in November and succeeds Keri Putnam, who stepped down from her post in August.
Photo by Fred Hayes © 2013 null WireImage

Former Toronto International Film Festival Executive Director Joana Vicente is the Sundance Institute’s new CEO.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Sundance Board of Trustees announced Vicente, a renowned filmmaker and producer, will succeed Keri Putnam, who stepped down from her post in August.

Vicente is scheduled to officially take the helm in November, and will work among the Institute’s Park City, Los Angeles and New York City offices, according to the statement.



Board of Trustees Chair Pat Mitchell and Chair-Elect Ebs Burnough, who led the search committee, said Vicente comes to Sundance as a true champion “of preserving, discovering, incubating and encouraging independent artistry in all forms.”

“All that, combined with her history running a film festival, success in fundraising and partnerships, and her proven ability to navigate fundamental changes in technology and the ways in which audiences consume and experience content, makes us extremely confident that Joana will continue Sundance’s invaluable work on behalf of independent artists in the U.S. and around the world,” they said in the release.



As Sundance Institute CEO, her responsibilities will include setting strategies that embrace the “evolving future of storytelling and building on the Institute’s work in supporting visionary artists with distinct voices in film, theater, film composing, episodic storytelling and emerging media,” the statement said.

In addition, the release stated that Vicente’s responsibilities include supervising the Institute’s artist, public and field-building programs, the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Co//ab, as well as advance Sundance’s inclusion and equity efforts. She will also oversee a permanent staff of 200 with an additional seasonal staff of 250, report to the board and work with artists, industry members and donors.

While at the Toronto International Film Festival, Vicente helped navigate the organization through COVID-19, while spearheading a strategic plan for the organization that would lead to long-term organizational stability.

Vicente is also no stranger to Sundance.

She founded Open City Films in 1994, and as its president, produced an array of Sundance-supported lab projects, features and short films that screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

The films include “Three Seasons,” which won the Grand Jury Prize, Cinematography Award and Audience Award, and “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” which won a Grand Jury Prize.

“Sundance has been an essential part of my career — I feel that I grew up as a producer with the support of the Festival and the Sundance labs,” Vicente said in the press release. “It is such an extraordinary opportunity to lead an organization that has defined independent storytelling for 40 years.”

Sundance Institute Founder and President Rober Redford praised the board’s choice of Vicente for CEO.

“From the day we started the Sundance Institute, we have had a very specific mission to foster independence, risk-taking, and new and diverse voices in storytelling,” Redford said in the release. “Throughout her entire career, it is evident that Joana shares this same uncompromising vision, and we know that she possesses a deep understanding of the evolving landscape, and can reach a new generation of independent creators working more fluidly across disciplines, communicating across borders, and engaging directly with audiences.”


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