About

About the Sundance Film Festival

Every winter in Utah, the Sundance Film Festival becomes the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Our annual program includes dramatic and documentary features and short films; series and episodic content; and New Frontier, showcasing emerging media in the form of multimedia installations, performances, and films. We also host daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music events. Since 1985, hundreds of films that have launched at the Festival have gained critical recognition and acclaim, reaching new audiences worldwide.

Programming Team

Meet the team that brings the best in indie storytelling to audiences at the Festival and around the world each year.

  • Areas of focus: Oversees programming, Premieres

    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 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 as well as its ventures in London, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. He previously led the development of the Institute's online presence, which garnered two Webby Awards. More recently, he worked to create IGNITE, a program to nurture a new generation of filmmakers and independent film enthusiasts ages 18 to 24. Cooper has been a guest curator and juror at major film festivals around the world. From 1995-1998 he was the Programming Director of Outfest and served on its Board of Directors until 2002.

  • Kim Yutani began programming short films at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. In 2009, she became a feature film programmer, focusing on US and international fiction feature films, overseeing short film programming, and working on the Festival’s Offscreen series of panels and conversations. She was instrumental in the creation of Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, which she also programs. During her tenure at the Institute, she has represented Sundance internationally by serving on juries, speaking on panels, and working to cultivate relationships with film commissions, industry, and artists around the world. For the past five years, she has also overseen a new collaboration with the Berlinale’s European Film Market – housed within the Sundance Film Festival at EFM program – which has provided exposure and sales opportunities for Sundance films, immediately after premiering at the Festival. She started her programming career at Outfest Los Angeles, one of the world’s leading LGBT festivals, where she was the Artistic Director and the Director of Programming. She is currently a programming consultant for the Provincetown International Film Festival. She has been a reader for Creative Capital and is on the short film nominating committee for Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking. Prior to her film festival work, Yutani was a film critic and freelance journalist focusing on independent film. She got her start in the industry as director Gregg Araki’s assistant. She was recently named an A100 Honoree on Gold House’s list of the most influential Asian Americans in culture.

  • Like each of the Senior Programmers of feature films, David is involved with selecting films across all Festival programs, but his focus is on U.S. and International documentaries. He is the lead programmer of Sundance Film Festival: London. He represents the film festival as a member of the selection committee of the Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship. He is the writer, director and producer of the Sundance Awards Ceremony and oversees Public Programming for all Institute programs 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’ LGBTQ Film Festival. Prior to that, David worked in film development for a number of production companies. He has served on the Advisory Board for 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 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, a program highlighting work that expands cinema culture through the convergence of film, art and new media technology.

    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 from institutions including the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Media Arts Foundation. She is a graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe & the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

  • Since 2001, Caroline Libresco has been Senior Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, where she selects features in all sections, with expertise in documentary and international film. She is also Director of Sundance Catalyst, a program connecting creative investors with highly-anticipated Sundance projects. Catalyst has raised $21 million for 67 Sundance projects in its first five years. Additionally, she founded Women at Sundance, a multi-pronged initiative forging gender equality in film. Previously, she was an executive at ITVS, San Francisco Film Festival, and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. She produced the Peabody-Award winning documentary American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs; the award-winning Independent Lens documentary, Sunset Story; Student Academy Award-winning featurette, Barrier Device; associate-produced HBO documentaryCat Dancers; and co-wrote and produced the independent feature, Fanci’s Persuasion. Caroline holds degrees from Oberlin College (BA), Harvard (MA), and UCLA Film School (MFA). She directed the Hot Docs Blue Ice Lab--a creative story workshop for African documentary filmmakers, mentored in FIND’s Documentary Lab, consulted to Harvard Kennedy School and Zurich Film Festival, and has served on dozens of film juries and panels internationally. She serves on the board of the International Documentary Association (IDA) and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • John deals primarily with programming feature films for the Festival’s World Cinema and U.S. Dramatic categories. He also programs the Offscreen series of panels and conversations at the Festival, which he has done since joining the Sundance team in 2001. He also heads up the Sundance Collection at UCLA, a groundbreaking archive that exists to protect, preserve, and restore past works of independent film. After growing up in Europe and the United States, John 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. He attended his first Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and found its energy infectious. He has been to every festival since. He is also the curator for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ popular film culture conversation series Lost & Found at the Movies.
  • Charlie started working with the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 as the assistant to the Director of Programming, and has programed feature-length films for the past six years. He also led programming of film, music and comedy at Sundance NEXT Fest. Prior to Sundance, Charlie worked in publicity at Entertainment Tonight, marketing at Tartan Films U.S.A, acquisitions at Paramount Vantage and his mom’s picture frame gallery. He moved to Southern California in 2001 from Dallas, TX to study film & television at the University of Southern California and Chapman University.

  • Hussain joined the Sundance programming team in 2014, specializing in documentary feature films. He was previously the Director of Programming for the Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK and has worked in international fiction and documentary programming for some of Australia's most highly-regarded film events, including the Adelaide and Melbourne film festivals. Upon graduation from the Victorian College of Art in 2002, Hussain founded a touring short film festival and began curating film programs for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. He has a B.A. in film from Curtin University and has written and directed 8 short films, many of which have played at film festivals around the world. Born in Canada, he has spent time living and working in Australia, Japan, The Netherlands, and the UK.
  • Heidi has been contributing to various Sundance Institute programs for over ten years, beginning with the Feature Film Program, International. Heidi was a Programmer at Palm Springs International Shortfest from 2011-2014 and programs shorts at the Provincetown International Film Festival. 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.

  • Adam started at Sundance in 2005 as Manager of Programming, overseeing the selection process for nearly 14,000 film, episodic, and VR submissions that the Festival receives annually. Additionally, he lends his passion for cult and genre filmmaking to the programming of the Festival’s Midnight section, electing to spend the majority of his nights engrossed in all varieties of horror, thrillers, and off-color comedies. Adam also uses his past experience in television development to programming the Festival’s newest program, Indie Episodic. Prior to joining the Institute, he spent five years 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.

  • Harry Vaughn is a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, specializing in US and World documentary features. He's worked for Sundance's Catalyst Forum and the institute's Feature Film Program, where he began his career in 2011 as an intern. Aside from his work at Sundance, Harry is a consulting programmer for Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, and was previously a senior programmer for Outfest Los Angeles. He also assisted in programming and coordinating NewFest in New York and Outfest Fusion. He holds a Master’s degree in Arts Journalism from the University of Southern California and is a Los Angeles native.

  • Lauren Cioffi is a documentary film programmer working in Los Angeles. She was selected to be on the Feature Documentary Programming Team at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015, curating and discovering US and International documentaries. She also aids in selecting new projects in development for the Sundance Documentary Fund. She has been a film Programming Consultant at Outfest Film Festival for the last 4 years. She is excited about documentaries that push the boundaries of the form and highlight underrepresented voices.She graduated from Georgetown University, creating her own major in Film Theory. In addition to programming, she enjoys producing original nonfiction content with emerging directors.

  • Stephanie Owens is new to the Sundance programming team. She started screening for the festival in 2016. She is also a programmer for the LA Film Festival, and has worked with POV, Palm Springs International ShortFest and WIF. She loves films, and documentaries especially. In fact, when she’s not watching documentaries for festivals, she’s chipping away at her first feature documentary project. Owens earned her BA in Studio Art from the University of Virginia and MFA in Art and Film/ Video from CalArts.

  • Born in Brazil, Ana Souza was partially raised in Amsterdam. She holds a B.A. from the University of Warwick, England and an M.A. from the University of Southern California. She joined Sundance initially as the assistant to the Director of Programming under Trevor Groth. In addition to her work supporting the Programming department at Sundance, she has programmed for AFI FEST and the LA Film Festival. She has also worked in various capacities for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Outfest, Ambulante California, and NALIP’s Latino Media Fest, among others. She has been a programming fellow for Film Independent’s Project Involve and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Industry Academy.

  • Mike has worked at film festivals since 1993 and at Sundance since 2001. He was a Short Film Programmer from 2003 until 2006, New Frontier consultant from 2002 until 2010, and climbed back into the shorts saddle in 2011, now heading up the Short Film programming team. He conducts a Short Film Master Class around the country, and runs the Sundance Film Festival Shorts Tour, a traveling program of shorts that plays in over 80 cities throughout North America and Europe. Along with Trevor Groth, he programmed and helped run CineVegas from 2002 until 2010. Outside of festival work, he wrote and published the Cinemad film zine from 1998-2002 which now continues as a blog and podcast. He makes short and feature documentaries whenever he can, including Be Like An Ant (2011), Giuseppe Makes A Movie (2014) and The Polaroid Job (2016).

  • Dilcia Barrera is a Feature Film Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival.

    Since 2007, Dilcia has worked for numerous film festivals including a tenure as a Sundance Film Festival Shorts Programmer, Senior Programmer at AFI FEST and has collaborated with OUTFEST, LAFF and The Philadelphia Film Festival. Most recently, she was the Associate Curator of Film at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and was invited to curate the return edition of LALIFF (The Los Angeles Latino Film Festival) and two new short film categories for NYFF54 (New York Film Festival). She has served on international film festival juries at the Berlin International Film Festival and SXSW and in 2016 was named one of "IndieWire’s 20 Latin Americans Making a Difference for American Independent Film Today."

  • 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 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 film festivals worldwide.

  • 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 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 has been part of the Sundance shorts programming team since 2009. Currently the Manager of Membership & Events for BAFTA Los Angeles, she previously served as Panels Programmer for the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. 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 joined the shorts programming team in 2014. He is also the Manager of Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program and a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and California College of the Arts’ MBA program for Design Strategy.

  • Having previously worked at numerous film festivals, Landon joined Sundance’s programming staff in 2008 as programming coordinator, becoming a member of the shorts programming team in 2011. He is the Programming Director of the Stanley Film Festival and also programs films for AFI FEST and The Los Angeles Film Festival. Landon directed two short films that together have played at more than 60 festivals around the world.

Awards & Jury

The culmination of the Sundance Film Festival is our Awards Ceremony. Winning a Festival award can be life-changing for a filmmaker, and can bring attention to the impactful stories that might not have otherwise reached wider audiences. Films in both the documentary and dramatic competition categories are eligible for a variety of prestigious awards bestowed by our juries, made up of individuals with original and diverse points of view from the worldwide film community. In addition, we invite audiences to vote for their favorites with five Audience Awards—given to one film in each of the four competition categories and the NEXT category—as well as the Festival Favorite Award, chosen from any feature category.

Catch the live streams of all the awards ceremonies at sundance.org/live.

Code of Conduct

The Sundance Film Festival is an environment where bold, creative, and distinctive voices are celebrated.

Sundance Institute is committed to allowing attendees to experience the Sundance Film Festival free of harassment, discrimination, sexism, and threatening or disrespectful behavior. We reserve the right to revoke, without notice or refund, credentials or access to Festival events and venues for those who engage in any such conduct.

We have partnered with the Utah attorney general's office to provide a 24-hour live hotline during the Festival for those who are involved in or witness any conduct that violates this code of conduct at (801) 834-1944.

For emergencies, immediately dial 9-1-1.