An Interview with New Frontier Programmer Shari Frilot

As we wrapped up our first-ever New Frontier Story Lab at the Sundance Resort in Utah, we took a few minutes to check in with 10 guests as they checked out on their way home. Our ninth interview is with Shari Frilot, senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival and curator of the New Frontier section. Between watching hundreds of films, Shari dropped down into the lab for a couple days to see how it was evolving.

Do you know what transmedia is?

I learned what “transmedia” meant after reading a review of the 2010 edition of New Frontier when one critic wrote “there was one word on everyone’s minds at New Frontier this year and that’s ‘transmedia.’ I was like, ‘What’s transmedia? Is that what we are doing?’

Using only one word, how would you describe it?


Which is more important: storytelling or technology?

Storytelling. It’s the original technology upon which all other technologies are built.

What do you do? What’s your passion?

I'm senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival (which means I choose the films that play in the festival), and I'm the curator of New Frontier (which means I conceptualize the exhibition and select the works that are featured in the venue). My passion is expanding cinema culture so that it's more capacious and better able to strengthen our humanity.

What transmedia website, article, project, or person are you really excited about right now?

I'm excited about them all, and I’m most immediately excited about Question Bridge as I’m busy building the platform for its exhibition in January at the festival.

Why do you think it’s taken so long for transmedia to be taken seriously?

It took awhile before artists/filmmakers to claim domain to, and engage with the apparatus of transmedia storytelling in an artistic way. Before, it was only advertising and security institutions and that were really claiming domain to this media infrastructure, so it wasn’t called transmedia storytelling. It was just called “advertising” or “security systems.”

Have you been to the Owl Bar on this trip?

Ah, I think the answer to that question is YES.

What piece of technology could you simply not give up right now?


What was the most exciting thing that happened to you at the first-ever New Frontier Lab?

Being in the room when screenwriters were fighting over terms with transmedia producers and finally working out that they were talking about the same thing, only different languages. I felt the future of Sundance expand in that moment.

Lead photo: