Sundance Festival Names Kim Yutani Director of Programming

John M. Heller/Getty Images
Kim Yutani

A programmer at the fest since 2006, she will succeed Trevor Groth in her new role.

Kim Yutani, a senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival, has been promoted to director of programming, it was announced Tuesday by fest director John Cooper. She will succeed longtime director of programming Trevor Groth, who left after this year’s edition of the Park City, Utah, indie film fest to join production and distribution company 30West

Yutani, who will report to Cooper, will lead the curation of film, media, and offscreen programming at both the Sundance Film Festival and other year-round public programs that showcase independent filmmakers. 

Currently on her way to the Cannes Film Festival, Yutani began her festival career at Outfest Los Angeles LGBT festivals, where she was artistic director and director of programming. She joined Sundance in 2006 to program short film, and in 2009 became a feature film programmer, focusing on U.S. and international fiction feature films, overseeing short film programming and working on the festival’s offscreen series of panels and conversations. Yutani was instrumental in the creation of Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, which she also programs.

During her tenure at the Sundance Institute, she has represented Sundance internationally by serving on juries, speaking on panels and working to cultivate relationships with film commissions, industry figures and artists around the world. For the past five years, Yutani has also overseen a new collaboration with the Berlinale’s European Film Market — housed within the Sundance Film Festival at EFM program — which has provided sales opportunities for Sundance films immediately after premiering at the festival.

Yutani also is currently a programming consultant for the Provincetown International Film Festival. She has been a reader for Creative Capital and is on the short film nominating committee for Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking.

Prior to her film festival work, Yutani was a film critic and freelance journalist focusing on independent film. She got her start in the industry as director Gregg Araki’s assistant. She was recently named an A100 Honoree on Gold House’s list of the most influential Asian-Americans in culture.

In a staff memo, Cooper said, “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. She’ll now helm an incredibly talented team of curators and programmers, and I predict that our festival slates will further deepen and broaden the reach of independent artists and stories in fiction and nonfiction.”

Commented Yutani: “My approach as a programmer has always been driven by an empathetic inquisitiveness, a desire to see the world from as many points of view as possible — and I’m so excited to collaborate with Cooper and our team, with their myriad strengths and backgrounds, to surface new artists and voices."

Added Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam: “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, make the role her own, and — together with the entire programming team — shape the festival for the years to come.”