Sundance’s John Cooper To Move Aside As Festival Director After 2020 Snowy Fete; Taking On Newly Created Role

11 yrs after being named SFF boss, John Cooper is exiting upward next year AP

After almost 11 years as Festival director and three decades tramping throw the snow and offerings at Park City, John Cooper is stepping aside as the head of the Sundance Film Festival next year

“Cooper’s contributions are immeasurably large and he will be missed in this role…but then again, he will be right down the hall in this new capacity,” Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam said today of her long-time cinema co-conspirator as Cooper transitions into the newly-created Emeritus Director role starting after the 2020 fest.

“He’ll lend his vision and experience to key projects, as we build towards our 40th anniversary celebration and look ahead to the coming decades of supporting independent creativity,” Putnam added.

A constant energetic presence on and off stage during the winter shindig, Cooper has also played foil to Sundance fonder Robert Redford as the two parried during the annual shindig’s opening day press conference.

Having hinted in recent years that he may be making a move, the former director of creative development for the Sundance Institute and director of programming was named to his current and soon-to-be ex job back in March 2009.

“When we established the festival, it was always with two goals in mind: supporting new artists and inspiring new audiences,” Redford said back in 2009 of the man who became of the primary instigators of the SFF we know today. “Copper has never lost sight of these goals. He brings to the position an infectious enthusiasm as well as a deep understanding of the Sundance brand and culture. Forward thinking, he is a natural choice of succession to lead the festival into the 21st century.”

Redford, who himself stepped back from the public side of Sundance at this year’s festival, did not make a statement today. On the other hand, as he has so often at SFF, the very well respected Cooper kind of said it all himself.

“This journey has been exhilarating,” the film fest exec stated Thursday. “I’ve been lucky to find my perfect job. l always had the founding principles, passed down by Robert Redford, to guide me.”

“I attribute any success I have had to being part of an amazing staff (past and present) who strive together to help storytellers follow their dreams and launch careers. I’ve got such confidence and pride in the team, and am excited by all that the future holds. I look forward to remaining a part of this fantastic organization in my new role, and creating a seamless transition for new Festival leadership.”

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 23 to February 2.

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