Deadline Hollywood reports that the Sundance Film Festival has hired within their ranks and appointed Senior Programmer Kim Yutani to fill the Director of Programming position that was recently vacated by the stalwart Trevor Groth, who occupied this coveted and influential position for well over a decade.
Moving up from Senior Programmer at the fest, Yutani will lead the curation of film, media and off-screen programming at the Sundance Film Festival and other year-round public platforms and programs that showcase and elevate independent storytellers and artists.
“Kim’s curatorial vision combines a voracious appetite for films across genres with a creative instinct for the work that will affect audiences and culture,” Festival Director John Cooper said in a memo to staff announcing the move. “I predict that our Festival slates will further deepen and broaden the reach of independent artists and stories in fiction and nonfiction.”
Kim is a fixture of the Los Angeles indie film scene and I have known her for quite a while. A knowledgeable colleague, her quiet demeanor hides a brilliant curatorial skillset and foresight in seeing trends and emerging filmmakers before they’ve become mainstream. She started at Sundance over a decade ago, first as a shorts programmer and in 2009, joined the features team focusing on American and international narrative features. At the same time, she also served as the main programmer for Outfest, Los Angeles’s premiere LGBT film festival that takes place in June.
She was also instrumental in curating panel talks and special sidebars during the Sundance Film Festival and led the creation of Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, a mini-film festival that showcases Sundance faves (similar offshoots also are mounted in London and in downtown Los Angeles as Next Fest).
“My approach as a programmer,” Yutani said, “has always been driven by an empathetic inquisitiveness, a desire to see the world from as many points of view as possible.”
Said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute: “Kim rose to the top among an outstanding field of candidates because of her creativity, programming experience and collaborative approach to leadership. I am excited to see how she’ll execute her vision.”
I personally think Kim is the perfect candidate to fill Trevor Groth’s shoes. She, like Trevor, were nurtured through the Sundance system, and is a champion of indie film artists. What I think Kim can add to the Sundance conversation, however, is a new perspective as a POC woman. The programming vision would most likely be the same, but at least the person at the helm is someone coming from a different experience and point of view.
As more POC and Asian Pacific Americans are rising through the executive ranks, and with Sundance’s status as one of the most important film festivals in North America, it’s great news that Kim Yutani is at the helm, programming films from emerging filmmakers that will shape the indie film and cultural scene. She joins a coterie of other kick-ass APA film professionals like producer Nina Yang Bonjiovi, directors Justin Lin, Jon M Chu, Cary Fukunaga, actors Constance Wu, Randall Park, Akwafina and Ali Wong, and multi-hyphenates like Mindy Kaling, Daniel Dae Kim and many more.