John Cooper is stepping down as director of the Sundance Film Festival.
Cooper (pictured) will move into the newly created role of emeritus director following the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. 2020 will mark his 30th Sundance Film Festival, and his 11th year as Festival Director.
With the new title, Cooper’s remit will focus on special projects and managing the 40th anniversary of the Sundance Institute, to be marked in 2021. The search for Cooper’s replacement will be led by Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam.
During his tenure as the festival’s director, Cooper’s legacy includes the implementation of the Short Film category and competition, as well as the Documentary Premiere, NEXT and New Frontier sections. He has also brought the festival to global audiences by helming Sundance Film Festival: London and Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, while also bolstering the Institute’s year-round global presence.
He has additionally created the Sundance Industry Office, the youth-focused Sundance Ignite Program, and had a hand in the early development of the Arthouse Convergence.
Said Cooper in a statement: “This journey has been exhilarating. I’ve been lucky to find my perfect job. I always had the founding principles, passed down by Robert Redford, to guide me. I attribute any success I have had to being part of an amazing staff (past and present) who strive together to help storytellers follow their dreams and launch careers. I’ve got such confidence and pride in the team, and am excited by all that the future holds. I look forward to remaining a part of this fantastic organization in my new role, and creating a seamless transition for new Festival leadership.”
“Cooper’s contributions are immeasurably large and he will be missed in this role…but then again, he will be right down the hall in this new capacity,” Putnam added. “He’ll lend his vision and experience to key projects, as we build towards our 40th anniversary celebration and look ahead to the coming decades of supporting independent creativity.”
With files from Frederick Blichert