Joana Vicente to Step Down As Sundance Institute CEO; Amanda Kelso Appointed Acting CEO

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PARK CITY, UTAH, March 22, 2024 — Today, Joana Vicente shared that she has decided she will be stepping down as Sundance Institute CEO. As part of a planned transition, the Institute’s Board of Trustees has appointed Institute Board Member Amanda Kelso as Acting CEO, who will be returning to lead the organization. 

“After two and half inspiring years, I have made the decision to begin a new chapter and will be moving on from my role as CEO of Sundance Institute,” said Joana. “Over the past six years, I have had the privilege of leading two of the most culturally significant organizations for independent film in North America through some of the most challenging times for our industry. This journey has been incredibly rewarding, and I’m so proud of the work our Sundance team has accomplished together, championing independent storytellers and amplifying their voices.”

Vicente has helped to successfully sustain and expand the Institute’s support of global storytellers and set it up to continue its meaningful work supporting artists and connecting their projects with audiences worldwide. She helped bring the Festival back in person, all the while making the Festival more accessible by welcoming an online community. During her tenure, the Institute has created new funding opportunities for artists with fellowships to uplift underrepresented storytellers, forged relationships to ensure that artist programs could continue their vital in-person labs, and expanded the opportunity for artists internationally with new Festivals in Asia and the recently announced Sundance Film Festival CDMX in Mexico City. 

“Joana has been a tremendous asset to the Institute and our global community of artists and has worked through some of the most challenging times for our industry during her time here. She has been a true advocate for independent storytellers, and I know she will continue to positively impact this community. On behalf of the entire board, I want to thank her for all that she has done for the Institute and independent film,” said Sundance Institute Board Chair Ebs Burnough.

Burnough continued, “Amanda joined the board in 2020 because of her admiration for the work our organization does and our mission to support artists. Over these four years, her skill set from decades of work at the intersection of storytelling and technology has helped contribute to the strategic decisions the board plays a role in,” said Sundance Institute Board Chair Ebs Burnough. “It’s those same reasons why she stepped in before and why she is making a longer and larger commitment now to guide the team and lead the organization through strategic planning and the day-to-day operations of the Institute.” 

“As we look toward the future of the Sundance Institute, I am filled with both pride and humility as I take on the role of Acting CEO,” said Amanda. “It is an immense honor to return to lead during this pivotal time for arts organizations, and more specifically, independent storytellers. I believe in the power of Sundance and its ongoing impact in nurturing our mission-based work. This work is dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and connecting them with audiences around the world.” 

With over 25 years of experience as a creative communications and brand leader for global technology companies and as an advocate for independent storytellers, Amanda is well-positioned to focus on the development of the next strategic plan for the Institute’s continued advancement, upholding Robert Redford’s vision and ensuring the Institute’s long-term sustainability and growth well into the 21st century.

Amanda is a trustee of the Sundance Institute, has formerly served as Acting CEO, as co-chair of the Technology Committee, a member of the Finance Committee, and was also actively involved in the Digital Festival Task Force, helping the organization navigate the pivot to online when they were unable to gather in person during the pandemic. 

Reporting to the board, she will work with key stakeholders and lead a year-round staff of 165 with additional seasonal staff.  She will oversee all areas of the Institute, including its year-round artist programs, the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Collab, public and field-building programs, advancement, and continue to advance Sundance’s commitment to its mission and values. 

Amanda will be transitioning into her role in April, and Joana will continue to serve as an advisor to Amanda and the board through June.


About Amanda Kelso

Amanda Kelso is passionate about technology and storytelling, and how together they can shape communities. She has over 25 years of experience as a creative communications and brand leader for global technology companies and has also contributed her skills to non-profit organizations. Her roles have included fostering Instagram’s community of more than one billion people, serving as the Managing Director of Google Creative Lab, and providing digital creative leadership at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and West Ventures. Earlier in her career, Amanda worked on television productions including Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Amanda holds a BA in Film and Media Studies from Columbia College, Columbia University.

As an advocate for independent storytellers, Amanda is a trustee of the Sundance Institute, a member of the Producers Guild of America’s New Media Council, and a judge for the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Her work has been recognized by Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, SXSW, D&AD, Clios, One Show, The Jim Henson Technology Honor, and Communication Arts. Amanda also serves on the board of Darkness to Light, a nonprofit committed to preventing child sexual abuse.


About Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings a global cohort of working artists together to learn from Sundance advisors and connect with each other in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Through the Sundance Institute artist programs, we have supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Big Sick, Bottle Rocket, Boys Don’t Cry, Boys State, Call Me by Your Name, Clemency, CODA, Drunktown’s Finest, The Farewell, Fire of Love, Flee, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Fruitvale Station, Get Out, Half Nelson, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hereditary, Honeyland, The Infiltrators, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Woods, Love & Basketball, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Mudbound, Nanny, Navalny, O.J.: Made in America, One Child Nation, Pariah, Raising Victor Vargas, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, RBG, Sin Nombre, Sorry to Bother You, The Souvenir, Strong Island, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Swiss Army Man, Sydney, A Thousand and One, Top of the Lake, Walking and Talking, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and Zola. Through year-round artist programs, the Institute also nurtured the early careers of such artists as Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Gregg Araki, Darren Aronofsky, Lisa Cholodenko, Ryan Coogler, Nia DaCosta, The Daniels, David Gordon Green, Miranda July, James Mangold, John Cameron Mitchell, Kimberly Peirce, Boots Riley, Ira Sachs, Quentin Tarantino, Taika Waititi, Lulu Wang, and Chloé Zhao. Support Sundance Institute in our commitment to uplifting bold artists and powerful storytelling globally by making a donation at Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube.

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