Jun 9, 2022 - News

Sundance Film Festival director is stepping down

A black and white portrait of former Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson.

Photo courtesy Sundance Insititute.

Tabitha Jackson is leaving her post as director of the Sundance Film Festival.

  • Her departure comes after two years of leading one of the world's most esteemed independent film festivals during a pandemic.

What she's saying: "Being part of driving forward the mission and purpose of the Sundance Institute has been a deep privilege and a profoundly meaningful part of my life," Jackson said in a statement.

  • She will depart shortly after Sundance Film Festival: London wraps on June 12.

Why it matters: In 2020, Jackson became the first woman and person of color to serve as the festival's director. She replaced John Cooper who held the position for 11 years.

Details: No reason was given for her departure, but Variety reported Jackson said the biggest learning curve of her career was "being director of the festival during this pandemic and this time and all the messiness and complexity that comes with that."

Flashback: The Sundance Film Festival went virtual in 2021 and 2022 and canceled its in-person events in Park City.

Zoom out: Under Jackson's leadership, Sundance received backlash this year after showing the documentary "Jihad Rehab" that contained stereotypes of the Muslim community. Festival officials later apologized for airing it.

  • The controversy also led to the resignation of two Sundance Institute senior staffers, IndieWire reported.

What's next: Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente will lead the search for the next director as planning for next year’s hybrid film festival is underway.


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