Programming Team

John Cooper
Director, Sundance Film Festival

“Finding a program of films you love every year is both an exhilarating and daunting task. I have put together an amazing staff that loves dialogue and discourse, understands the filmmaking community and is committed to building an audience for independent film. We trust each other and program from a place of passion for originality and excellence.”

John Cooper has been a member of the Sundance Film Festival programming staff since 1989 and assumed the role of Festival Director in April of 2009 after serving as the Sundance Film Festival's Director of Programming since 2003.

His early work in theater, ranging from performance to design, took him to New York City. By chance, he volunteered at the Institute's Summer Labs in 1989 and fell in love with the process and energy of Sundance. He returned to California to become part of the Festival programming team, which at that time consisted of two people. In the Festival's early years, Cooper created the short film program and quickly transitioned into programming documentaries and feature films. As Festival Director, he oversees creative direction of the Festival and has final decision on all films and events.

Cooper played a crucial role in the Institute’s early online projects, which garnered two Webby Awards.  He was also responsible for many of Sundance’s other public film programs, including Sundance Institute at BAM and Sundance Film Festival Tokyo. Currently, he oversees Institute projects such as Sundance London and the recently-launched NEXT Weekend, a four day Los Angeles festival held in August.

From 1995-1998, Cooper held the title of Programming Director for Outfest, an annual Los Angeles-based festival, and remained a member of the Outfest Board of Directors until 2002.  He serves as curator or juror at major film festivals around the world.

Trevor Groth
Director of Programming

“In 1989, I was 17 and living in Salt Lake City when I drove my '79 Subaru Brat up the snowy canyon to Park City to experience Sundance for the first time. It truly felt like I'd gone to Oz. I’d found a magical place that would change my life forever. The films I saw and the people I met guided me down the yellow brick road towards programming for Sundance. I have the privilege of watching independent films and documentaries made by filmmakers all over the world, and for ten days every January, I go back to Oz to celebrate them with other film fanatics.”

As Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, Trevor Groth supervises the Programming staff, collaborates with the Director of the Festival on strategic planning and oversees the selection process for both films and jury members. He also programs film and music for Sundance London and oversees the Sundance Institute’s ShortsLabs.

Groth’s first job in film was as a development assistant for the Sundance Institute in 1992. He joined the programming staff a year later and has worked there ever since. During that time, along with programming at Sundance, he has been a consultant for numerous international festivals and film organizations including Artisan Entertainment, Australian Film Institute, IFILM and the Off-Plus Camera Film Festival in Krakow. From 2001-2009 he served as Artistic Director for the CineVegas Film Festival. Working closely with Dennis Hopper, who was Chair of the Creative Advisory Board, he shaped the festival into one of the most distinctive and “dangerous” film festivals in the world. In 2009 he was one of ten festival directors asked to contribute to the Phaidon Press publication Take 100: The Future of Film: 100 New Directors.

Groth graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in Telecommunications and Film.

Feature Programmers

David Courier
Senior Programmer

“When I see a new film that rocks my world - something groundbreaking, something extraordinary from a filmmaker that I had never heard of before, it makes me sit up and remember… yes, yes, yes, this is why I do this.”

Like each of the Feature Programmers, David selects films across all the sections of the festival but his focus is U.S. and World Cinema documentaries. He is also the writer and producer of the Sundance Awards Ceremony and oversees Public Programming for all of Sundance Institute throughout the year. David started his career at Sundance in 2000 as a Documentary Screener and advanced from there. He is the former Co-Director of Programming at Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival. Prior to festival programming, David worked in film development for a number of production companies. He has served on the Advisory Board for the IFP and on the nominating committee for the IDA Awards, the Cinema Eye Honors and the Gotham Awards. A native of Buffalo, NY, David graduated from Columbia University with degrees in English and Theatre.

Shari Frilot
Senior Programmer, Curator of New Frontier

“Stories work in deep, sensuous, biochemical ways and define how we see ourselves, how we see the world, and how we imagine our future. I love storytellers who push me beyond what I know and encourage me to see differently.”

Shari joined the programming team in 1998 and currently focuses on American and World Cinema dramatic features, as well as films that experiment and push the boundaries of conventional storytelling. She is also the curator and driving creative force behind New Frontier at Sundance. As Co-Director of Programming for Outfest from 1998-2001, she founded the Platinum section, which introduced cinematic installation and performance to the festival. From 1993-1996, Frilot served as Festival Director of MIX: The New York Experimental Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.  During that time, she also co-founded the first gay Latin American film festivals, MIX BRASIL and MIX MÉXICO. Shari is a filmmaker and recipient of multiple grants, including the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Media Arts Foundation. She is a graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe & the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Caroline Libresco
Senior Programmer

“We never go into the season knowing what we’re looking for. We like to measure films against themselves rather than some objective standard that doesn’t exist anyway. In other words—is this film achieving what it set out to do—on its own terms?”

Since 2001, Caroline has been programming for the Sundance Film Festival, where she selects features in all sections, focusing on documentary and World Cinema features. She spearheaded the creation of the World Cinema competition sections at the Festival, and currently oversees the industry meetings program for international filmmakers. Libresco also serves as Director of Special Programs for the Institute, where she oversees programs such as Film Forward, Catalyst Weekend, and the  Sundance Women’s Initiative.

Prior to joining Sundance, Caroline worked at ITVS, SF International Film Festival, and SF Jewish Film Festival. She is a consultant to Harvard Kennedy School, Hot Docs, and Zurich Film Festival, serves on the board for Women Make Movies, and mentors in FIND’s documentary labs. Her producing/writing credits include SUNSET STORY, FANCI’S PERSUASION, and AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY. Caroline holds an M.A. in History of Religion from Harvard and an M.F.A. from UCLA Film School.

John Nein
Senior Programmer

“If you scan the history of American film looking for a place that offers creative filmmakers the freedom to innovate the aesthetic, explore complex ideas, deepen our understanding of people and push storytelling in a way that’s provocative and inspiring…that place is independent cinema. And that’s what makes it such a great place to live.”

John deals primarily with the festival’s World Cinema and U.S. dramatic features. He also programs the Offscreen series of panels and conversations at the Festival, which he has done since joining the Sundance team in 2001. During the offseason, he runs the Institute’s film preservation program, the Sundance Collection at UCLA. John grew up in Europe and the United States, studied history at Carleton College and was a graduate student in UCLA’s Film Directing program, where he made several award-winning short films and lobbied tirelessly for better coffee in the vending machines. Having found production work somewhat disenchanting, he attended his first Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and found its energy infectious. He has been to every festival since.

Charlie Reff

“Honestly, if it wasn’t my job to watch films for the festival, I’d still spend all my free time watching these same movies. It’s a blurry line between my professional responsibilities and my personal obsessions.”

Charlie started working with the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 as the assistant to the Director of Programming. He now focuses on programming the NEXT and Midnight sections of the Festival, and oversees the slotting process of all festival screenings. Prior to Sundance, he worked in the film department at Entertainment Tonight, marketing at Tartan Films U.S.A, his mom’s picture frame gallery, and acquisitions at Paramount Vantage. He moved to Southern California in 2001 from Dallas, TX to study at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Kim Yutani

“It’s a huge feat of creativity, thinking, collaboration, and endurance to make a film. That’s why we take a positive approach to each movie we look at—always seeking out the person on our team who will most resonate with and find passion for a particular film.”

Kim Yutani focuses on U.S. and World Cinema dramatic features for the Sundance Film Festival. She also oversees Short Film programming for the Festival, and has been a Shorts Programmer since 2006. In addition to her work at Sundance, Kim is the Artistic Director for Outfest Los Angeles, one of the world’s leading events for LGBT cinema. For five years, she was the Director of Programming of Outfest, where she oversaw the programs Outfest Los Angeles, Outfest Fusion, and the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. She has been a reader for Creative Capital and on the nominating committee for Cinema Eye Honors. Prior to her film festival work, Kim was a film critic and freelance journalist focusing on independent film.

Adam Montgomery
Senior Manager, Programming Department
Associate Programmer, Park City at Midnight

Now in his ninth year at Sundance, Adam oversees the viewing and selection process for the more than 12,000 film submissions that the Festival receives annually, ensuring that each film submitted is watched and given its due consideration. Additionally, he lends his passion for cult and genre filmmaking to the programming of the Festival’s Park City at Midnight section, electing to spend the majority of his nights engrossed in all varieties of horror, thrillers, and off-color comedies. Prior to joining the Institute in 2005, he spent five years in television development, most recently at Imagine Entertainment, where he worked on shows such as Arrested Development and 24. He is a firm believer that filmmakers are under no obligation to stick to any previously-established rules with regards to zombies, vampires, werewolves or Frankenstein.

Sudeep Sharma
Associate Programmer, Documentary Features

Sudeep began screening documentary features for the Festival in 2007 before joining the Institute as an Associate Programmer in 2012. In addition to his Festival programming duties, he has served as a reader for Sundance’s Feature Film Program and Documentary Fund. Sudeep is also a Programmer for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and a PhD candidate in Cinema & Media Studies at UCLA.  He has taught film, media and communication courses at universities throughout Southern California. He has a MA in Cinema & Media Studies from UCLA and a BA in English from George Washington University. Originally from New Jersey, Sudeep has lived in Los Angeles since 2001.

Harry Vaughn
Associate Programmer, Documentary Features

Harry is an Associate Programmer specializing in the Festivals documentary programs. He interned for the International arm of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program from 2011-2012 and became a screener for the Festival last year. Harry programs and coordinates for Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival and Outfest Fusion. He holds a BFA from Emerson College in Boston and is on track to receive his Masters in Arts Journalism from the University of Southern California. A Los Angeles native, Harry has written film, art and theater reviews for a variety of outlets including Artillery Magazine, LA Stage Times and Boston’s The Weekly Dig.

Heidi Zwicker
Associate Programmer & Coordinator, World Cinema

Heidi has been contributing to various Sundance Institute programs for the past nine years, beginning with the Feature Film Program, International. In 2010, she was hired as the Programming department’s World Cinema Coordinator and began serving as an Associate Programmer for the Festival in 2012, focusing mainly on international feature films.  Additionally, Heidi has been a Programmer at Palm Springs International Shortfest since 2011.  She also manages the Sundance Collection at UCLA. Originally from the north shore of Boston, she has a degree in English from University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth and an M.A. in Critical Studies of Film and Television from UCLA.

Shorts Programmers

Mike Plante
Shorts Programmer

Mike has worked with film festivals since 1993 and at Sundance since 2001. He was a Short Film Programmer from 2003 until 2006, and got back into the Shorts saddle in 2011, heading up the Shorts programming team. On weekends he makes films and does podcasts and film distribution under his ‘Cinemad’ banner.

Dilcia Barrera
Shorts Programmer

Joining us as Short Film Programmer in 2013, Dilcia Barrera began as a programming intern for Sundance in 2007. Currently, she's a Senior Programmer at AFI FEST, Programmer for The Philadelphia Film Festival and a screener for the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. A Los Angeles native, Dilcia has Spanish/Portuguese Literature and Film degree from UCLA.

Emily Doe
Shorts Programmer

Emily joined the Sundance team in 2010. She counts documentaries, female-driven films, and hand-drawn animation among her favorites. A native of Massachusetts, Emily attended Kenyon College in Ohio before settling in San Francisco. She also works in youth education at SFIFF and previously was an editor at Wholphin DVD.

Ernesto Foronda
Shorts Programmer

Ernesto joined the Sundance Shorts Programming team in 2010. Born in the Philippines, he immigrated to the U.S. at an early age. He received film degrees from UCLA (BA) and Columbia University (MFA). He has written, directed and produced a handful of shorts and features that have played in festivals worldwide.

Jon Korn
Shorts Programmer

Jon has been a Shorts Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival since 2009. He is also a writer at Eleven, Inc in San Francisco. Previously, Jon was a Shorts Programmer at Outfest, an Associate Programmer at AFI FEST, and an Associate Creative Producer for CineVegas. He is the Co-Creator of the Echo Park Time Travel Mart and a Jeopardy! champion.

Katie Metcalf
Shorts Programmer

Katie Metcalfe has been with Sundance since 2010 and previously worked with short film distribution label Future Shorts in Europe. Based somewhere between New York and London, while not programming shorts, she produces cinematic events for Secret Cinema and more recently helped Vimeo produce their Festival + Awards in New York.

Lisa Ogdie
Shorts Programmer

Lisa has been part of the Sundance shorts programming team since 2009. Currently, Membership & Events Coordinator for BAFTA Los Angeles, Lisa first came to Sundance as a volunteer in 2006, and has garnered extensive festival experience working with Sundance in various capacities over the years.

Adam Piron
Associate Shorts Programmer

Adam Piron joins the 2014 Shorts programming team as an Associate Short Film Programmer. A graduate of U.S.C's School of Cinematic Arts, he is currently enrolled at the California College of the Arts for an MBA in Design Strategy. He previously worked at Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program.

Landon Zakheim
Shorts Programmer

Having previously worked at numerous film festivals, Landon joined Sundance’s programming staff in 2008 as programming coordinator, becoming a member of the shorts team in 2011. He’s an Associate Programmer for Los Angeles Film Festival and has also directed two short films that together have played over 60 festivals worldwide.