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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Sundance Film Festival names Eugene Hernández its next director

Eugene Hernandez last year at the New York Film Festival, for which he served as executive director.

By Nicole Sperling

The indie film veteran Eugene Hernandez will become the new director of the Sundance Film Festival, replacing Tabitha Jackson, who left the organization after just two years in the job.

Hernandez, who currently serves as the senior vice president of Film at Lincoln Center, the executive director of the New York Film Festival and the publisher of Film Comment, will join the Sundance Institute’s leadership team in November, upon conclusion of the New York festival, which runs from Sept. 30 through Oct. 16.

Hernandez, who in 1996 co-founded IndieWire, the online entertainment publication initially dedicated to independent film, and remained its top editor until 2010, will report to the Sundance Institute’s CEO, Joana Vicente.

“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,” Vicente said in a statement. “He’s been at the forefront of supporting independent artists and deeply invested in the careers of storytellers and the field as a whole.”

In addition to serving as the Sundance festival director — only the fourth person to hold the job — Hernandez will also become the head of public programming. That encompasses year-round events like Sundance Film Festival: London, which has taken place in the summer, and Sundance Film Festival: Asia, which was held in Jakarta last month. The organization is hopeful Hernandez will expand its purview with even more year-round programming outside of Park City, Utah, where the main festival is held.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival will be led by Vicente, who will work closely with Kim Yutani, the festival’s director of programming. The 2024 edition, the event’s 40th anniversary, will be held with Hernandez in the lead spot.

“I’m both energized and humbled to accept this opportunity to join Sundance,” Hernandez said in a statement. “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.”

Soon after Hernandez’s visit to Sundance, he co-founded IndieWire. Hernandez left that organization for Film at Lincoln Center in 2010, initially running the group’s digital strategy. He was promoted to executive director of the New York Film Festival in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic.

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