Each year, the Sundance Film Festival rolls out an enviable lineup of jury members — billed as “experts in film, art, culture and science” — to dole out awards to the feature-length works shown at the festival. In total, 28 prizes (and sometimes more!) will be announced at a ceremony on January 28 (as ever, Short Film Awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on January 24). The festival has now announced this year’s various jury members, including actors, filmmakers, producers, writers and other luminaries (and, yes, plenty of Sundance alums pop up amongst their ranks).
Additionally, the festival has also announced that actress, comedian, correspondent and podcast host Jessica Williams will host the annual awards. Jones seems poised to have a very busy Sundance indeed, as she also toplines James Strouse’s premiere “The Incredible Jessica James,” which will close out the festival the night before.
The awards, which recognize standout artistic and story elements, are voted on by each of six section juries. As in years past, Festival audiences have a role in deciding the 2017 Audience Awards, which will recognize five films in the U.S. Competition, World Competition and NEXT categories.
Check out the full list of jury members below (with biographical information provided by Sundance).
U.S. Documentary Jury
Diego Buñuel is a French filmmaker born in 1975 and the host and director of the National Geographic Channel series, “Don’t Tell My Mother.” He is also the host of a television news show in France called “Les Nouveaux Explorateurs,” broadcast on Canal Plus. In 2014 he was appointed director of documentaries and factual entertainment at Canal Plus.
Julie Goldman is an Emmy Award–winning producer and executive producer of documentary feature films. Julie produced “Life, Animated” and executive produced “Weiner,” which premiered and won awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Robert Greene is a filmmaker and writer. His films include the 2016 Sundance Film Festival award–winning “Kate Plays Christine,” the Gotham Awards–nominated “Actress” (2014), “Fake It So Real” (2011), and the Gotham Awards–nominated “Kati With An I” (2010).
During her 30 years as series creator and executive producer of “American Masters” on PBS, Susan Lacy produced over 215 documentaries about our nation’s cultural giants. Under her watch, the series garnered an unprecedented 71 Emmy nominations and 28 wins (including 10 for Outstanding Nonfiction Series), 12 Peabody Awards, and three Grammys.
Emmy Award–winner Larry Wilmore has been a television producer, actor, comedian, and writer for more than 25 years. He is perhaps best known for his role as host of Comedy Central’s critically acclaimed “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” Offscreen, he serves as co-creator and consulting producer on Insecureand also helped launch ABC’s “Black-ish” as an executive producer.
U.S. Dramatic Jury
Gael García Bernal
Gael García Bernal recently gained critical acclaim—and a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a comedy series—for his role in “Mozart in the Jungle.” The series also won a Golden Globe Award for best comedy series, and the show returned for its third season in December 2016. Having worked as an actor since his childhood in Mexico, Bernal made his feature film debut in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Academy Award–nominated “Amores Perros.”
Peter Dinklage’s breakout role came in 2003, when he redefined the concept of a leading man in the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award–winner “The Station Agent.” Since then, Peter has been a constant force in the acting world, best known for his role as Tyrion Lannister in “Game of Thrones,” for which he has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
A native of Concord, North Carolina, Jody is a graduate of the filmmaking program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he met future collaborators Ben Best and Danny McBride. Years after graduation, the trio reconnected to make “The Foot Fist Way,” Jody’s debut feature, an ultra-low-budget taekwondo comedy.
Jacqueline Lyanga has been the director of AFI Fest—the American Film Institute’s annual film festival in Los Angeles—since 2010. She has worked for AFI as a film programmer and producer since 2005, and has been a guest and moderator of industry panels at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Jeannine Oppewall started her career working with Charles and Ray Eames, who were among the most famous American designers and filmmakers of the twentieth century. The first film that Jeannine designed was “Tender Mercies.” She has received Academy Award nominations for her production design on “L.A. Confidential,” “Pleasantville,” “Seabiscuit,” and “The Good Shepherd.”
World Cinema Dramatic Jury
After graduating from the Central Academy of Drama, Nai An started producing feature films as an independent producer. She also founded Dream Factory, which is dedicated to discovering, cultivating, and helping promising young Chinese directors.
Sonia Braga was born in 1950 and made her acting debut in the 1968 feature “O Bandido da Luz Vermelha” before achieving fame in Brazil as a star of telenovelas.
Athina Rachel Tsangari
Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Attenberg” premiered at the 2010 Venice Film Festival where it won the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress (Ariane Labed) and was showcased as a Spotlight film at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In 2012 her short horror film “The Capsule” premiered at the Festival del film Locarno and played at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Her latest feature, “Chevalier” (2015), won Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival and was nominated for Best International Film at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
World Cinema Documentary Jury
Carl Spence began curating films and concerts at the University of Washington during the grunge era. He started his festival career in 1994 at the Seattle International Film Festival, which he helped grow over the past two decades to become one of the largest film festivals in North America. He also led the organization’s expansion into year-round exhibition, making SIFF the leading independent art house exhibitor in Seattle, and he served as SIFF’s director and chief curator prior to starting his own consulting firm, CCS Arts, in 2016. Carl held the position of director of programming for both the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival, and in 2014 he helped co-found the Orcas Island Film Festival as an advisor and chief curator.
Marina Stavenhagen is a screenwriter and film promoter. She has created and directed several film festivals in Mexico and has participated as a curator and advisor of many more.
Lynette Wallworth is an acclaimed Australian artist and filmmaker whose work has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier section since 2009.
Short Film Jury
Shirley Kurata is a Los Angeles–based costume designer and wardrobe stylist. She studied fashion in Paris for three years and received a BA in general art before working as a costumer for several years on various television and film projects. From there she has gone on to do costume design for commercials, music videos, and films in addition to styling for various fashion editorials and runway shows.
David Lowery is a filmmaker from Texas. His films include “Pioneer,” “St. Nick,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “A Ghost Story” and “Pete’s Dragon.”
Patton Oswalt is a comedian, actor, writer, comedian, and writer. In his spare time he does stand-up comedy. You may have seen him acting in movies or television. He also writes.
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Jury
Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist, psychiatry professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and visiting scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute. She explores interactions of the human brain and mind to develop treatments for impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders.
Tracy Drain is a flight systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She is currently the deputy chief engineer for the Juno Mission.
Nell Greenfieldboyce is a science correspondent for National Public Radio who covers everything from anti-matter to narwhals and DNA.
Nicole Perlman is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She won the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival’s Sloan Grant for science in film for her screenplay “Challenger,” which also placed on the Black List.
At the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Jennifer Phang’s sophomore feature “Advantageous” won a U.S. Dramatic Competition Special Jury Award.
The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19 – 29, 2017 in Park City, Utah.