I have been a member of the Sundance Institute board since 1996. Supporting independent storytellers is a cause that is near and dear to my heart — the filmmakers, playwrights, composers and producers whose ideas, innovations, and voices are critical to a fully inclusive and informed world.
I was introduced to the work of the institute by its founder, Robert Redford, whom I met when on assignment from Ted Turner to produce a documentary series on Native Americans. Redford had initiated a lab program for Native American directors and writers, which I traveled to Sundance Mountain Resort in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah to observe. With Redford’s help (he became my co-executive producer on the six hour documentary series) we hired some of the Native American directors, writers, cinematographers, and musicians to help us complete what would be the only history of Native Americans ever told by Native Americans themselves.
During the three years that we worked on this project, I observed other lab programs and was deeply impressed by the work that Redford had almost single-handedly initiated and sustained. When he invited me to join the board, I did so with great enthusiasm.
I've been a part of a huge period of growth for the institute, which now operates labs somewhere in the world every month of the year, and continues to curate and fund the globally respected Sundance Film Festival, which happens every January in Park City, Utah, and at the Sundance resort itself.
Becoming board chair — replacing the wonderful Wally Weisman, who served as chair for more than 20 years — is an awesome responsibility, but one that I embrace. It is a true privilege and an opportunity to continue the institute’s unique programs, which are bringing new ideas, new stories, and new voices to film, both narrative and documentary, and to theater.