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Sundance Institute names Keri Putnam executive director

Published: Thursday, Feb. 25 2010 1:06 p.m. MST

LOS ANGELES — Keri Putnam, the former president of production for the now-defunct Miramax Films studio and a former HBO films executive, will serve as the executive director of the Sundance Institute.

Sundance Institute officials announced Putnam's appointment Wednesday night. She replaces Ken Brecher, who resigned from that leadership position in April.

Robert Redford, founder and president of the Sundance Institute, and board Chairman Wally Weisman both praised Putnam for her "passion for the arts," as well as a "stellar reputation for her intelligence, creativity, collaboration and leadership at the highest levels of business."

"In the spirit of moving forward with new ideas and a fresh approach in the environment that surrounds us, Keri's appointment reflects the new direction in which Sundance Institute is headed," Redford said, noting that he also believes that "Keri's knowledge and talent will be critical to the fulfillment and expansion of the institute's mission and vision in the years ahead."

Weisman said that the "exceptional health of (Sundance) afforded the board the opportunity to take its time selecting the right person for this key position. With Keri, ours was a unanimous, enthusiastic decision."

As executive director, Putnam will now oversee all facets of the nonprofit Sundance Institute, including its Feature Film Program, the Documentary Film Program, the Sundance Film Festival, the Film Music Program, the Theatre Program, and the Native and Indigenous Program. She is expected to start her new position in April.

Putnam said she is "both thrilled and privileged to become a part of this organization's leading work," adding that it is "an incredible opportunity for me personally, and there is also tremendous potential for all of us — staff, trustees, alumni and friends alike — to explore new opportunities and expand on our global reputation. I can't wait to get started."

Meanwhile, her predecessor, Brecher, will remain with the Sundance organization as a strategic adviser for at least another year.

His resignation was one of several leadership changes that have occurred in both the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival organization throughout 2009 and 2010. Last February, longtime festival director Geoffrey Gilmore resigned and joined the New York-based Tribeca Enterprises media group. Programming director John Cooper was named as his successor, while veteran festival programmer Trevor Groth assumed Cooper's former post.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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