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Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper to step aside after 2020 event

Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper to step aside after 2020 event

(Kristin Murphy, KSL file)

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SALT LAKE CITY — John Cooper, the longtime director of the Sundance Film Festival who brought several new programs to the event, will step aside next year, festival officials announced Thursday.

Cooper will move to an emeritus director role after the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, according to a news release from the Sundance Institute. He will focus on special projects and the 40th anniversary of the festival, which will be celebrated in 2021, according to the release.

“This journey has been exhilarating. I’ve been lucky to find my perfect job,” Cooper said in the release. “I look forward to remaining a part of this fantastic organization in my new role and creating a seamless transition for new festival leadership.”

Next year’s festival will be the 30th event Cooper has been involved in and the 11th for which he’s been in charge.

He is credited with keeping the festival “vital and competitive” within the film industry during his tenure as director, the release states. He helped create the short film competition section at the festival, as well as the documentary premiere, “NEXT” and “New Frontier” parts of the festival, according to the release.

Cooper also helped facilitate Sundance Film Festival: London and Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, as well as community outreach programs such as the Sundance Ignite Program, which focuses on artist development for filmmakers ages 18-25.

Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam will lead the search for a new festival director, according to the release.

“Cooper’s contributions are immeasurably large and he will be missed in this role,” she said. “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.”

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