Sundance Institute Announces Jury Members For 2016 Sundance Film Festival

Bearded man holding a director's clapboard.

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute has summoned 23 film, theatre, culture and science experts for jury duty to award 27 prizes at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, January 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

(L-R) Sundance Film Festival, Credit: Fred Hayes; Taika Waititi, Credit: Sundance Film Festival; Director Crystal Moselle, Credit:Jemal Countess.

Also announced today, filmmaker and Institute alum Taika Waititi will host the feature film Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. MT, which will be live streamed at Waititi will be premiering his latest film Hunt for the Wilderpeople at the Festival, has written and directed What We Do in the Shadows (2015), BOY (2010) and Eagle vs. Shark (2007) and he will direct the upcoming Thor 3. His previous films have been supported by Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs as well as its Native American and Indigenous Film Program. Hailing from the sub-sub-tropical continent of New Zealand, Oscar-losing director Waititi says he invented the sideways “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout?” look.

The six juries of film and culture leaders screen all films in their respective sections and jointly decide which standout artistic and story elements to recognize with prizes. In addition, Festival audiences vote for their favorite films and five Audience Awards are given to films in the U.S. and World Competitions and NEXT. Films that earned awards at the Festival in recent years include Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, Twenty Feet from Stardom, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Whiplash, Fishing Without Nets, Dear White People, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, The Cove, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Man On Wire.

Short Film Awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on Tuesday, January 26 at 9:00 pm MT and live streamed at

U.S. Documentary Jury

Simon Kilmurry
Simon Kilmurry is the executive director of the International Documentary Association (IDA). He joined IDA in 2015 and currently oversees all of its programs, including filmmaker services, educational programs, the IDA Awards, and advocacy. From 1999 to 2015, Kilmurry worked in various roles at POV—the long-running PBS documentary series—including that of executive producer from 2006 to 2015. He has received 15 Emmy Awards, more than 60 Emmy nominations, 5 Peabody Awards, and 4 duPont Columbia Awards. He also served as CEO of American Documentary (AmDoc), POV’s nonprofit parent organization, where he developed America ReFramed, a documentary series on the WORLD Channel. Kilmurry has worked with a wide range of emerging and established filmmakers, including Laura Poitras, Marshall Curry, Yung Chang, Yoruba Richen, Natalia Almada, and Jennifer Fox.

Jill Lepore
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. Much of her research, teaching, and writing explores absences and asymmetries of evidence in the historical record. As an essayist, she writes about American history, law, literature, and politics. Her many books include The Name of War (1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize; New York Burning (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Book of Ages (2013), a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2014), a New York Times bestseller and winner of the American History Book Prize. Her next book, Joe Gould’s Teeth, will be published in 2016.

Shola Lynch
Shola Lynch is a documentary filmmaker based in Harlem, New York City. She is best known for Chisholm ’72—Unbought & Unbossed, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, which sold worldwide and won numerous awards, including the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary. Lynch is the curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a position that fulfills her other passion—collecting, archiving, and preserving history. Lynch is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Women Filmmakers Initiative. Her current project, The Outlaw—her first feature narrative based on a true story—recently received a Creative Capital award.

Louie Psihoyos
Louie Psihoyos is the Academy Award-winning director of The Cove (2009). His most recent film, Racing Extinction (2015), premiered on the Discovery Channel in an unprecedented global broadcast—220 countries and territories saw the film within 24 hours. Psihoyos is the executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society, a nonprofit that educates, inspires, and empowers the global community to become change agents actively engaged in saving and preserving the oceans, endangered species, and our planet through the use of film, photography, social media, and collaboration. Prior to his filmmaking career, Psihoyos was a still photographer for National Geographic for 18 years. He is currently in production on a documentary film about plant-based super athletes.

Amy Ziering
Amy Ziering is a two-time Emmy Award–winning and Academy Award–nominated documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film, The Hunting Ground—a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on college campuses—premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was released by Radius/The Weinstein Company and CNN, and was recently nominated for the 2016 Producers’ Guild of America’s Best Documentary Award. Her previous film, The Invisible War—a groundbreaking investigation into the epidemic of rape in the U.S. Military—won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, two 2014 Emmy Awards for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism, and the 2013 Peabody, and it was nominated for an Academy Award. The film spurred Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to announce significant policy changes and catalyzed the passing of 35 pieces of reform legislation in Congress.

U.S. Dramatic Jury

Mark Adams
Mark Adams is the artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and was recently the chief film critic for film trade paper Screen International, as well as film critic for the Sunday Mirror in the UK. He attends most of the key international film festivals and for 25 years has written as a film journalist and reviewer for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Moving Pictures International, as well as many national newspapers in the UK. Adams has worked extensively in the film industry, including as head of programming at the National Film Theatre for six years and director of cinema at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, both in London. He has consulted for various organizations and has programmed for film festivals around the world.

Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham is the creator and star of the HBO series Girls. She has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards and has won two Golden Globe Awards, all for her work on Girls. In 2010, she won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for her feature Tiny Furniture. In 2013, Dunham became the first female to win a DGA Award in the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series category. In 2015, Lena and Jenni Konner launched LENNY, a feminist newsletter featuring original editorial content on politics, art and culture, health and wellness, sex and relationships, and style ( An accomplished author, Dunham’s book of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl, was a number-one New York Times best seller. She is also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.

Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm’s nuanced portrayal of the high-powered advertising executive Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men firmly established him as one of Hollywood’s most talented and versatile actors. He has earned numerous accolades, including the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. In 2015, Hamm loaned his voice to the wildly successful Universal Pictures animated feature, Minions. He recently completed production on BB Film’s Marjorie Prime and will be seen starring in 20th Century Fox’s Keeping Up with the Joneses, both due out this year. Hamm has appeared in films such as Bridesmaids, The Town, Million Dollar Arm, Friends with Kids, Kissing Jessica Stein, and Howl, which played at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Hamm received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Avy Kaufman
Casting director and proud mother of two sons Avy Kaufman has worked with directors Ang Lee, Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Ira Sachs, Tom Tykwer, Lars von Trier, and Wes Craven on such acclaimed films as Life of Pi, The Conspirator, Lincoln, Prometheus, Public Enemies, American Gangster, and others. Kaufman was honored in 2005 as the Casting Director of the Year at the Hollywood Film Festival, and in 2013 received the Angela Award for lifetime achievement at the Subtitle European Film Festival in Ireland. She won an Emmy Award in 2008 for her work on the pilot of Showtime’s Damages. She was also the recipient of several Artios Awards from her colleagues and is featured in Helena Lumme’s book Great Women of Film.

Franklin Leonard
Franklin Leonard is the founder of the Black List, the yearly publication and company that highlights Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays. Over 250 Black List scripts have been produced, earning a total of 45 Academy Awards—including three of the last seven Best Picture winners and eight of the last sixteen Best Screenplay winners—and 225 nominations. Franklin has worked in development at Universal Pictures and the production companies of Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, Will Smith, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He has been named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “35 Under 35,” Black Enterprise’s “40 Emerging Leaders for Our Future,” and Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.” Franklin was also awarded the 2015 African-American Film Critics Association’s Special Achievement Award for career excellence.

World Cinema Dramatic Jury

Randall Poster
Over the last twenty years, Randall Poster has supervised the music in over 100 feature films. Best known for his collaborations with director Wes Anderson, Poster also works regularly with directors Harmony Korine, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, Sam Mendes, and Jason Reitman. His recent credits include Haynes’ Carol, Nancy Meyers’ The Intern, Alfonso Gomez- Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Max Joseph’s We Are Your Friends. Upcoming projects include Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, Todd Phillips’ Arms and the Dudes, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and Robert Schwentke’s Allegiant. Poster has won two Grammy Awards: one for his work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and the other for producing the soundtrack to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Fernanda Solorzano
Fernanda Solórzano is the chief film critic for Letras Libres magazine, where she has written since 2001. Before that, she was chief film critic for the “Sábado” supplement of the Unomásuno newspaper, Cambio journal, and the “Confabulario” supplement of the El Universal newspaper. Her film articles have appeared in many Mexican print outlets, as well as foreign publications, including the “Atlas du cinéma” supplement of Cahiers du Cinéma, Caimán Cuadernos de Cine, and Sight & Sound. She has hosted television programs on film analysis, including Filmoteca 40, Confabulario, Encuadre, and Plano Abierto. Along with her regular writing, Solórzano is currently working on a Mexican film production dictionary and is a member of the Morelia International Film Festival official selection committee. She lives in Mexico City.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul was born in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1970. His nonlinear films, lyrical and mysterious, deal with memory and subtly invoke politics and social issues. His first feature film, Mysterious Object at Noon, is a conceptual documentary that debuted in 2000. His next film, Blissfully Yours, won the Prize Un Certain Regard at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and is the first part of a trilogy, followed by Tropical Malady and Syndromes and a Century. In 2010 Weerasethakul won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and in 2015, he released Cemetery of Splendour, as well as a projection-performance piece, Fever Room. He currently lives and works in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

World Cinema Documentary Jury

Mila Aung-Thwin
Mila Aung-Thwin is a Montreal-based director and producer. He is the co-founder of EyeSteelFilm, a company that specializes in feature documentaries. Aung-Thwin has produced more than 20 feature documentaries, including Up the Yangtze, RiP! A Remix Manifesto, Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, China Heavyweight, and the Emmy-winning Last Train Home. He served for five years as the president of Montreal’s international documentary film festival, RIDM, and is currently directing a film on the subject of nuclear fusion and a film about young people in Yangon, Myanmar.

Tine Fischer
Tine Fischer is the founder and director of the international film festival CPH:DOX, the talent development and production program CPH:LAB, and the co-production and financing forum CPH:FORUM. She has previously worked at the Danish Film Institute and has been actively involved in the contemporary art scene, including as partner in the leading Scandinavian art gallery Andersen’s Contemporary and as curator of exhibitions focused on art-based film practices. Tine is a graduate of the European producer program EAVE and is the owner of the film production company Fischer Film, which specializes in the crossover between film and contemporary art. She produced Accidentes Gloriosos (2011) and executive-produced Killing Strangers (2013), La Ultima Pelicula (2013), Solecito (2013), Stranded in Canton (2015), and several film projects with Icelandic/Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

Asif Kapadia
Director, writer, and producer Asif Kapadia first gained recognition in 1998 for his student film The Sheep Thief, which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival. His debut feature, The Warrior, received two awards and one nomination at the BAFTAs, and his feature documentary SENNA, the story of Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna, was a multiple award–winner and a breakout hit at the UK box office. AMY, premiered at Cannes in 2015, tells the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words; the film is an international hit and has been nominated for a European Film Award and five BIFA awards. Kapadia’s next film is Ali and Nino, an adaptation of the epic novel by Kurban Said.

Short Film Jury

Keegan-Michael Key
Emmy nominee, Peabody Award winner, and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Keegan-Michael Key is the star and co-creator of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele. He gained further acclaim when he performed his character Luther the anger translator with President Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. A veteran of Detroit and Chicago’s The Second City Theater, Key was a series regular on MADtv and had recurring roles on Fargo, Parks and Recreation, and Playing House. His film credits include Wanderlust, Role Models, Afternoon Delight, Due Date, The Lego Movie, Let’s Be Cops, Horrible Bosses 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland, and Vacation. In spring 2016, Keegan can be seen opposite Jordan Peele in New Line’s Keanu.

Gina Kwon
Gina Kwon is a development executive at Amazon Studios in half-hour TV, where she oversees the series Transparent, One Mississippi and Z: The Beginning of Everything. A veteran independent film producer, her credits include Michel Franco’s Chronic, winner of the Prix du Scénario at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival; Peter Sattler’s Camp X-Ray; Miguel Arteta’s The Good Girl; and Miranda July’s debut feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know, winner of the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 2005. Kwon has served as a mentor to numerous Sundance Institute and Film Independent producing fellows, and she was an advisor at Sundance Institute’s 2015 Creative Producing Lab. She won the Bravo/American Express Producers Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2005.

Amy Nicholson
Amy Nicholson is the chief film critic of the L.A. Weekly. Her reviews and stories appear in the Village Voice and all Voice Media Group publications, and she co-hosts the weekly podcast The Canon. Nicholson holds a double BA in film studies and anthropology from the University of Oklahoma as well as a master’s degree in professional writing from USC. Her criticism has been recognized by the Los Angeles Press Club, the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and her first book, Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor, was recently published by Cahiers du Cinéma. Starting February 1, Nicholson will be the chief film critic for MTV News. Reach her on Twitter @theamynicholson.

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Jury

Kerry Bishé
Kerry Bishé is a theatre, film, and television actor. She can be seen in Steven Shainberg’s upcoming film Rupture as well as Kevin Smith’s Red State and Ben Affleck’s Academy Award–winning Argo. She has appeared on Broadway in Pygmalion and off Broadway in the one-woman play My Name Is Rachel Corrie. Bishé also plays computer engineer Donna Clark on the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire.

Mike Cahill
Writer/director/producer Mike Cahill has presented two films at the Sundance Film Festival, Another Earth (2011) and I Origins (2014), with the former winning the Special Jury Prize and both being awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. Upon playing the Festival, both films were then acquired and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. From New Haven, Connecticut, Mike fell in love with filmmaking at a very early age, and it remained his hobby through college at Georgetown, where he studied economics. After graduating, Mike started working as a field producer, cinematographer, and editor for National Geographic, where he made films about marine animals. Most recently Cahill directed two pilots, The Magicians (Syfy, 2016) and The Path (Hulu, 2016). He is passionate about stories involving science, spirituality, and the question of what defines the self.

Shane Carruth
Shane Carruth is a filmmaker. He wrote and directed Upstream Color (2013) and Primer (2004).

Clifford Johnson
Clifford V. Johnson’s work in science ranges from teaching and research as a professor at the University of Southern California to public engagement efforts in putting science back into the general culture. He helps artists, writers, and filmmakers incorporate science into their work, appears on several TV and online shows, and participates in other science-illuminating events. Johnson is co-director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and also writes about science; he is currently writing and drawing a graphic novel–style book featuring science. Johnson’s research is part of the international effort to understand and describe the origin and evolution of the universe and its fundamental constituents. He works mainly on superstring theory, quantum gravity, and M-theory, studying the physics of black holes, quarks, the Big Bang, and more.

Ting Wu
Ting Wu is based at Harvard Medical School, where she is a professor of genetics, director of space genetics, and director of the Personal Genetics Education Project ( Her group studies how genetic information is passed from parent to child (emphasizing the weirder aspects of inheritance), develops technologies that enable the highest resolution images of the genome thus far, and explores a mysterious set of sequences (ultraconserved elements) that may enable the body to cull damaged genomes. In addition, she oversees an initiative addressing the medical challenges of space travel. Wu also directs pgEd, which raises public awareness of personal genetics through classrooms, congressional briefings, film and television, and an online tool ( that lets players pin themselves on a world map of genetic awareness.

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Boyhood, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Life Itself, The Cove, The End of the Tour, Blackfish, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Super Size Me, Dope, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite. The New Frontier initiative, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2016, has showcased groundbreaking media works by artists and creative technologists including Chris Milk, Doug Aitken, Palmer Luckey, Klip Collective and Nonny de la Peña. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2016 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire Preferred®, and Canada Goose; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Airbnb, DIRECTV, Tequila Don Julio™, Samsung, and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – BROOKSIDE Chocolate, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dropbox, GEICO, The Hollywood Reporter, Kickstarter, LUNA Bar/Clif Bar & Company, Omnicom, Stella Artois®, and Uber. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. 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. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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