Keri Putnam to step down as Sundance Institute CEO

Keri Putnam onstage during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony.
Keri Putnam speaks onstage during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony.
(Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

After more than 10 years with Sundance Institute, Keri Putnam will step down from her position as chief executive of the organization later this year. The board of trustees will form a search committee to identify the institute’s next chief executive.

The announcement on Thursday comes not long after the completion of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, a mostly online event with partner venues all around the country that reached people in all 50 states, 120 countries and a total audience more than 2½ times larger than the typical in-person festival based in Park City, Utah. The 2021 festival was the first with new festival director Tabitha Jackson.

In her time with Sundance, Putnam has overseen an expansion of institute programs. The online platform Sundance Collab has more than 1 million users. The organization has continued to increase its global presence. After previously launched Sundance events in London and Hong Kong, the institute recently announced Sundance Film Festival: Asia to take place in summer 2021 in Jakarta, Indonesia. During Putnam’s tenure Sundance has expanded and established artist development programs for voices from historically underrepresented communities.


“I have decided it’s the right time for me to step down as CEO of Sundance Institute,” Putnam said in a statement. “Leading Sundance through this volatile era in media together with such an impassioned team has been one of my greatest joys. The remarkable growth of our community of artists, audiences and partners over the last ten years is a testament to the vitality and urgency of the independent storytelling Sundance supports. The Institute stands today as an innovative and resilient organization at the intersection of arts and media, supporting more artists and reaching a bigger audience than ever before.”

Before joining Sundance Institute, Putnam had been president of production at Miramax Films and before that spent 15 years at HBO, rising to executive vice president. She took her position with Sundance in 2010.

Sundance Institute was founded in 1981. Current Academy Award nominees “Minari,” “The Father,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Crip Camp,” “The Mole Agent” and “Time” all premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, while nominee “Judas and the Black Messiah” premiered at the 2021 event. Additional current nominees were also involved in the institute’s talent and funding programs.

“As a fierce supporter of independent creators, Keri has been instrumental in seeing the Institute through a decade of transformation, while keeping a laser-focus on Sundance’s mission of preserving, discovering, incubating and encouraging independent artistry in all forms,” said Robert Redford, founder and president of Sundance Institute, in a statement. “We cannot overstate her impact, and we thank Keri for her invaluable service in support of independent artists.”