Finneran jumps from Silverdocs to Sundance

Takes on role as senior consultant at the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program as Bruni Burres moves to the International Center for Transitional Justice.
September 10, 2008

Silverdocs festival director Patricia Finneran will be packing up her things and making the move from Silver Spring to New York in her new position as senior consultant at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program.

Announced this week, Finneran will be replacing Bruni Burres, who will be leaving her post at Sundance for the International Center for Transitional Justice as executive producer.

Beginning November 1, Finneran’s new duties will include traveling to international locations to speak on behalf of Sundance’s DFP, recommending film projects, as well as working with filmmakers on their projects. One of her main areas of concentration will be the Skoll Foundation’s Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary.

Cara Mertes, director of Sundance’s DFP, knew Finneran through Silverdocs and other documentary events, and the appointment came through once many pieces fell into place. Burres was leaving at the same time that Finneran was considering moving to New York, and was interested in becoming more involved with social change media.

Her five years at Silverdocs will definitely be an advantage for Sundance, says Mertes: ‘Patricia’s got a wonderful documentary sensibility, in terms of her taste and what she knows about the documentary world is very broad.’

Finneran is enthusiastic about the upcoming change but also sad to see her time with Silverdocs end. ‘To be working closely with filmmakers, tracking projects and having the opportunity to support projects early on is really exciting for me,’ she says. ‘Its great to take on this challenge but it’s a little bittersweet. I feel good that Silverdocs is in a really great place. It’s making a real contribution to the filmmaking community. I’m looking forward to seeing it flourish and come back to attend it as a guest.’

Burres, who brought a world of international human rights knowledge to Sundance from her time as head of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, has advice for her replacement. ‘I think she will be fantastic. As long as she opens her eyes and embraces all of the complementary and challenging aspects of human rights and human rights filmmaking and social entrepreneurship, she’ll flourish.’

In the meantime, filmmakers take note. Finneran will be looking for docs with a combination of talented storytelling and compelling stories.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.