January 2022 - EXTRAS: Sundance Institute's New CEO Joana Vicente


The Sundance Institute Board of Trustees announced that it has named longtime filmmaker and executive Joana Vicente as its next CEO. She joins the renowned media and arts nonprofit at a time of extraordinary growth and impact, in which it is uniquely positioned as a leading global advocate for independent artists, diversity in media, freedom of expression, and the critical role of arts in shaping society. Vicente 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 visionary artists with distinct voices in film, theater, film composing, episodic storytelling, and emerging media.

Vicente succeeds CEO Keri Putnam, who stepped down earlier this year. She joins the Sundance Institute from Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where she spent the past three years as Executive Director and Co-Head.

“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,” said Board of Trustees Chair Pat Mitchell and Chair-Elect Ebs Burnough, who led the Search Committee. “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.”

Vicente learned firsthand the true commitment Sundance has to independent creators, including those from historically underrepresented voices, through programs that support artists seeking production, financing, and distribution. As the Co-Founder and President of Open City Films since 1994, she produced four Sundance-supported lab projects, and has had 13 features and six short films debut at the Festival, including triple-winner 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. It is such an extraordinary opportunity to lead an organization that has defined independent storytelling for 40 years,” said Vicente. “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 firsthand 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.”