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Eugene Hernandez Joins Sundance Institute as Festival Director and Head of Public Programming

Sundance Institute hires Eugene Hernandez as Festival Director and head of public programmingSundance Institute hires Eugene Hernandez Photo Credit: Henny Garfunkel

Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente announced today that Eugene Hernandez will join the nonprofit as the new Festival Director and head of public programming of the Sundance Film Festival. His first festival leading as Director will be in 2024, while the forthcoming 2023 edition will be led by Vicente in collaboration with Director of Programming Kim Yutani and the Institute’s broader leadership team.

Hernandez is the fourth Festival Director in the Sundance Film Festival’s history, succeeding Tabitha Jackson, who served for two years. He will join the Institute’s core leadership team beginning in November, reporting to Vicente and being based between New York, Los Angeles and Park City. According to a press release, Hernandez’s duties in this new role will be to “lead the Institute’s year round public programming while amplifying the importance of independent film and media. He will be responsible for guiding and overseeing the Festival’s overall vision and strategy while collaborating with Yutani and the programming team, as well as the leadership team, to further the inspiring artistic vision of the Sundance Film Festival. He will lead the planning and execution of the Festival, working with senior leaders across the organization on the in-person and online elements of the marquee event. He will shape the Institute’s public programming globally and locally, both physically and digitally, championing the social and cultural role and rights of artists and developing programs to foster dialogue and community with Sundance-supported work at the center.”

Over the past 12 years, Hernandez has served as Senior Vice President at Film at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Executive Director of the New York Film Festival and publisher of Film Comment.

“It’s a full circle moment as Eugene has been inextricably connected to Sundance for more than 25 years, ever since he came to the Festival in the mid-1990s to build Indiewire, an online community for indie film. He’s been at the forefront of supporting independent artists and deeply invested in the careers of storytellers and the field as a whole,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO, in a press release. “I am thrilled that he will be the next Festival Director and that he is joining the Institute’s leadership team. I look forward to working closely with him as he leads the Festival and builds out our public programming—shaping critical conversations all year round, supporting our artist community, and expanding the possibilities for Sundance audiences and artists alike. He joins at a critical time in the industry for independent filmmakers when the Institute has never played a more important role for artists, audiences, and the field in total.”

Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford added, “Supporting independent artists has always been the bedrock of the Institute and the fuel behind the Festival. The fact that we have been able to hold true to this core purpose is a testament to the vitality of the Institute and to the Festival’s platform as a place to discover new films, ideas, and artists. For almost three decades, Eugene has been working on a parallel path with many of the same values and objectives in mind. I’m so pleased to have him serve as our new Festival Director, helping to support a new generation of artists, and taking us into the next decade of Sundance’s story.”

The forthcoming edition of the New York Film Festival will be Hernandez’s last, taking place between September 30 through October 16. He began the position of Festival Director in 2020, navigating a unique virtual festival landscape during the pandemic and bringing it back in-person to Film at Lincoln Center and New York theaters last year. Before joining FLC in 2010 as Director of Digital Strategy, Hernandez was the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Indiewire. He is a Member-at-Large of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the board of advisors for SXSW, SeriesFest, and Art House Convergence, which Sundance has supported. He has also worked extensively as a consultant for several nonprofits, written for major print and online publications, and participates annually in the international film festival circuit as a panelist and a juror, including the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.

“Sundance’s decades of leadership, championing artistic discovery and independent expression, was a landmark catalyst in my life. Nearly 30 years ago, looking for direction and curious, I went to the Sundance Film Festival for the first time. I immediately connected with its mission, and it changed my life,” said Hernandez in a statement. “I’m both energized and humbled to accept this opportunity to join Sundance. Supporting artists has been at the center of my career’s work, and for the last twelve years, I’ve had the privilege of growing and learning at Film at Lincoln Center and the New York Film Festival. I’m ready for this inspiring challenge and unique opportunity to engage artists and audiences at Sundance, work with its best-in-the-business team, and follow in the footsteps of exceptional leaders.”

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