Sundance Institute names Joana Vicente new CEO

Veteran filmmaker and executive Joana Vicente has been appointed the new CEO of the Sundance Institute. The Sundance Institute Board of Trustees announced Vicente’s new role on Wednesday (September 29). Vicente (pictured) ...
September 29, 2021

Veteran filmmaker and executive Joana Vicente has been appointed the new CEO of the Sundance Institute.

The Sundance Institute Board of Trustees announced Vicente’s new role on Wednesday (September 29). Vicente (pictured) takes over for Keri Putnam, who stepped down from the role earlier this year. She joins the Sundance Institute from the Toronto International Film Festival, where she spent the past three years as executive director and co-head of the festival.

As CEO, Vicente will assume responsibility for the institute’s strategies to “embrace the evolving future of storytelling” and build on the non-profit’s accomplishments in supporting artists in film, theater, film composing, episodic storytelling and emerging media.

Reporting to the Sundance board, Vicente will work with artists, funders, industry, donors and both national and international partners, while also heading up a year-round staff of 200 with an additional seasonal staff of 250. She’ll oversee all areas of the institute, including the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Collab and year-round artist programs while advancing Sundance’s commitment to inclusion and equity and furthering the institute’s advocacy work.

Vicente will begin her role in November and will split her time between the Institute’s Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City offices.

While at TIFF, in collaboration with co-head Cameron Bailey, Vicente navigated the pandemic while spearheading a new strategic plan for the organization. She oversaw TIFF’s reorganization to ensure greater sustainability and long-term stability while also leading the organization’s digital strategy and innovation. She drove industry partnerships, particularly with historically excluded communities, and created a new property, the TIFF Tribute Awards, which is now broadcast on TV. The Sundance Institute and TIFF are collaborating on a seamless leadership transition for both organizations.

Beyond her time at TIFF, Vicente is an experienced producer, having produced over 40 films, including Alex Gibney‘s Oscar-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. She also founded three production companies, including the first U.S. digital production company as well as the first HD production studio in the U.S. She also boasts management experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit media ventures.

“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, in a release.

“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.”

“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,” added Sundance Institute founder and president Robert Redford. “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.”

“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 of the move.

“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.”

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