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Kim Yutani Tapped as Sundance’s Director of Programming

Sundance Institute has selected veteran executive Kim Yutani​ as the Sundance Film Festival’s new director of programming.

She replaces Trevor Groth, the festival’s longtime director of programming, who departed in January to join the 30West finance-production company in February.

Yutani has extensive experience in expanding the Sundance brand outside the United States. She will lead the curation of film, media, and off-screen programming at both the Sundance Film Festival and other year-round public platforms and programs that showcase independent storytellers and artists. She was formerly senior programmer and will report directly to festival director John Cooper​.

Sundance made the announcement Monday night. Yutani, who is currently traveling to the Cannes Film Festival, assumes her new duties immediately.

In a memo distributed to staff, Cooper​ said, “Kim’s curatorial vision combines a voracious appetite for films across genres with a creative instinct for the work that will affect audiences and culture. She’ll now helm an incredibly talented team of curators and programmers, and I predict that our Festival slates will further deepen and broaden the reach of independent artists and stories in fiction and nonfiction.”

Yutani​ said, “My approach as a programmer has always been driven by an empathetic inquisitiveness, a desire to see the world from as many points of view as possible — and I’m so excited to collaborate with Cooper and our team, with their myriad strengths and backgrounds, to surface new artists and voices.”

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, where she was the artistic director and the director of programming. She is currently a programming consultant for the Provincetown International Film Festival. She got her start in the industry as director Gregg Araki’s assistant.

Keri Putnam​, executive director of Sundance Institute, said, “Kim rose to the top among an outstanding field ofcandidates because of her creativity, programming experience, and collaborative approach to leadership. I am excited to see how she’ll execute her vision, make the role her own, and — together with the entire programming team — shape the festival for the years to come.”

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