The Sundance Institute has named Channel 4’s Tabitha Jackson as Director, Documentary Film Program, the nonprofit announced today. Jackson replaces Cara Mertes, who headed to the Ford Foundation to direct its JustFilms program last summer
Jackson, who was recently Commissioning Editor, Arts, Channel 4 Television in London, will become a member of the Institute’s senior leadership team and supervise a staff of eight. Relocating to Los Angeles, she will begin December 6, 2013, reporting directly to Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam.
In her role at Sundance Institute, Jackson will oversee all activities of the Documentary Film Program, including planning and implementing strategic partnerships, granting $1.8 million annually to independent documentaries globally and hosting five annual Labs for documentary filmmakers, among other activities.
Most recently at Channel 4, Jackson commissioned shows such as “Random Acts” and “Frankenstein: The Making of a Myth,” which used Danny Boyle’s National Theatre production of Frankenstein to explore Mary Shelley’s story. She also supported documentaries including “The Imposter,” “The Cove,” “Burma VJ” and “Which Way Home.”
Jackson has extensive experience in producing nonfiction content for multiple platforms, arts advocacy and outreach and building creative partnerships. Before being named Commissioning Editor, Arts, Channel 4, Jackson was Editor, More 4 at Channel 4, where she oversaw the daily operations of the digital channel, including original programming True Stories and More 4 Arts.
“Tabitha’s professional experience, demonstrated leadership, and passion for the field make her an ideal candidate to lead our documentary program at this time,” said Putnam. “We were impressed with her infectious enthusiasm and fresh approach to storytelling, creating engaging content, and discovering new voices. I am confident that Tabitha will be a great leader in service of our core mission and will advance and deepen our impact and reach on a global level.”
In a statement, Ralph Lee, head of factual at Channel 4, said, “Tabitha has made the arts on Channel 4 truly distinctive with original commissions like ‘Random Acts,’ ‘House Party,’ ‘Street Summer’ and the BAFTA-winning ‘In The Best Possible Taste’ with Grayson Perry. She also made a real mark in documentaries backing ‘The Arbour,’ ‘The Imposter’ and ‘Dreams of a Life.’ We’ll miss her unique output and her presence as a colleague but we wish all the best at Sundance.”
Created at Sundance Institute in 2001 with support from Open Society Foundations, the Documentary Film Program’s year-round activities include funding, creative support for films and filmmakers from development through audience engagement, international creative and partnerships and field-building in targeted regions globally.