Sundance names new CEO

Joana Vicente moves from TIFF

by Amber Wilkinson

Joana Vicente
Joana Vicente Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
The Sundance Institute has named filmmaker and executive Joana Vicente as its next CEO

Vicente, who succeeds Keri Puttnam, will be responsible for setting strategies for the Institute that embrace the evolving future of storytelling and build on the Institute’s record of accomplishment in supporting artists with distinct voices in film, theatre, composing, episodic storytelling and emerging media. She joins the Sundance Institute from Toronto International Film Festival, where she spent the past three years as executive director and Co-Head.

Board of Trustees chair Pat Mitchell and chair-elect Ebs Burnough said in as statement: “This was a very comprehensive search to find the right person who would continue to move us forward with a vision that aligns with the founding values of the Institute’s founder, Robert Redford.

“The world’s storytellers are more connected than ever, and Joana’s international background is vital as we look to integrate ourselves with independent artists on an even greater scale globally. She comes to Sundance as a true champion of preserving, discovering, incubating, and encouraging independent artistry in all forms. She is a prolific independent producer in her own right with deep ties to Sundance. 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.”

Redford added: “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.

“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.”

Vicente has produced more than 40 films, including Alex Gibney’s Oscar-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Nadine Labaki’s Oscar-nominated Capernaum, and Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee And Cigarettes. She also founded three production companies, including the first US digital production company as well as the first HD production studio in the US.

Vicente was the co-founder and president of Open City Films from 1994, producing four Sundance-supported lab projects, and has had 13 features and six short films debut at the Festival.

Vicente said: “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. It is such an extraordinary opportunity to lead an organization that has defined independent storytelling for 40 years.

“This opportunity combines all of my passions: film, working with storytellers throughout the world, and leading mission-driven organizations. I have always felt that Sundance was a home for me, and this opportunity makes me feel as if I am going back home. As a producer, I know first-hand the incredible impact Sundance has on independent artists, and I look forward to working with Bob, the Sundance Board, and the amazing and dedicated teams at Sundance who continue to find new ways to discover, support, and inspire the most creative and diverse group of storytellers — not just in the United States, but all around the world. We are at a critical time for independent creators, and Sundance is poised to continue to be a beacon for storytellers throughout the world as they navigate the rough waters of our time.”

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