When the Sundance Film Festival kicks off next week, the annual event will flood Park City, Utah with plenty of high-powered talent, and it seems that this year’s jury members might offer up as much notoriety and star power as the people on the big screen. The Sundance Institute has announced the “20 celebrated and revered expert voices across film, art, culture, and science” who will make up this year’s juries, designed to award feature-length and short films shown at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival with 12 prizes. Those names include filmmakers Jane Campion, Damien Chazelle, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Ciro Guerra; screenwriters Phyllis Nagy and Sev Ohanian; actors Tessa Thompson, Sheila Vand, and Corey Stoll; and many more.
All this year’s winners, save for the short film awardees (which are announced at a separate ceremony on January 29), will be announced at a ceremony on February 2 that will be livestreamed at sundance.org and on YouTube. Award-winning filmmaker (and Sundance alum!) Marianna Palka will host the ceremony. Palka previously screened her “Good Dick” and “Bitch” at the festival, and her latest film, “Egg,” will hit theaters later this year.
The awards, which recognize standout artistic and story elements, are voted on by each of seven section juries. The NEXT Innovator’s Award will be awarded by a jury of one: lauded artist and filmmaker Laurie Anderson. Festival audiences also vote on the Audience Awards, which recognize five films in the U.S. Competition, World Competition, and NEXT categories. Festival audiences will also vote on a Festival Favorite film across categories, which will be announced the week following the Festival.
One award has already been announced: the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was awarded to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s feature directorial debut, ”The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” The film will premiere at the festival before hitting Netflix and select theaters on March 1.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival takes place January 24 – February 3 in Park City, Utah.
Check out the full list of this year’s Sundance jury members, with all biographies provided by Sundance.
U.S. Dramatic Jury
Desiree Akhavan is the co-writer and director of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her first film, Appropriate Behavior, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Film Independent Spirit Award for best first screenplay. Most recently, she created the Hulu original series The Bisexual, which premiered in the fall. She has a BA from Smith College and an MFA from NYU’s graduate film program.
Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle most recently directed First Man, about Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon. Previously, he wrote and directed the critically acclaimed films La La Land (2016) and Whiplash (2014). Chazelle made his first feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, as an undergraduate student at Harvard University.
Dennis Lim is the director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, where he serves on the selection committees for the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films and oversees the year-round repertory and festival programming. He was previously the editorial director for the Museum of the Moving Image and the film editor of the Village Voice. The author of a critical biography on David Lynch (David Lynch: The Man from Another Place, 2015), he has contributed to the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Artforum, Film Comment, Cinema Scope, and other publications, and taught film studies at Harvard University and arts criticism at New York University and The New School. He was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2018.
Phyllis Nagy is a writer and director whose latest screenplay, Carol, was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best screenplay and received nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Writers Guild Award for best adapted screenplay. Mrs. Harris, an HBO film Nagy wrote and directed, received 12 Emmy nominations, including two nominations for Nagy herself: Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special, and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special. Her next project is So Much Love, a film about a week in the life of the iconic British singer Dusty Springfield that Nagy will write and direct.
Tessa Thompson is a critically acclaimed, award-winning actress whose career spans a remarkable array of roles and genres. She has recently appeared in the hit blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, the indie titles Sorry to Bother You (2018 Sundance Film Festival) and Little Woods (2018 Tribeca Film Festival), the sci-fi thriller Annihilation, and the HBO drama series Westworld. Thompson’s credits also include the Academy Award–winning Selma and the off-Broadway play Smart People. Her performance in Dear White People l anded her a Gotham Award for breakthrough actor, as well as a nomination for outstanding actress in a motion picture at the NAACP Image Awards. Thompson will next be seen in Creed II and in Sony’s new Men in Black spin-off.
U.S. Documentary Jury
Lucien Castaing-Taylor is an anthropologist, artist, and filmmaker who works in the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University and in Paris, France. His works include Leviathan ( 2012), a collaboration with Véréna Paravel that is part of the four-piece project Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a Hook? (2012–2016); Ah humanity! (2015), with Ernst Karel and Paravel; and Sweetgrass (2009), with Ilisa Barbash. In 2017, he co-directed three more video and film projects with Paravel: somniloquies a nd Commensal, both commissioned by documenta 14, and Caniba. His work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, and elsewhere.
Yance Ford is an Academy Award–nominated, Emmy-winning director based in New York City. A graduate of Hamilton College and the Third World Newsreel Production Workshop, Ford is a fellow of both Sundance Institute and MacDowell Colony. The Root 100 named Ford among the most influential African Americans of 2017, and he was honored with the IDA Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award. His debut film, Strong Island, won the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for storytelling, in addition to multiple other awards elsewhere, including the IFP Gotham Award for best documentary. At Cinema Eye Honors, it became the first nominee to ever win best in direction, debut, and feature. Ford made history as the first transgender director nominated for an Oscar.
Co-owner of New York’s Loki Films, Rachel Grady is the co-director of Jesus Camp (Academy Award nominee), The Boys of Baraka (Emmy nominee), 12th & Delaware (Peabody Award winner), Detropia (2012 Sundance Film Festival; Emmy winner), and Freakonomics: The Movie. In 2016, Grady co-directed Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, which was the opening-night selection at the Sundance Film Festival, ran as an episode of PBS’s American Masters, and was nominated for an Emmy alongside American Masters. More recently, Grady and co-directorHeidiEwingspentthreeyearsonOneofUs, whichistheirsixthfeature-lengthdocumentary collaboration together. Grady is currently working on a documentary series for Showtime. She resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Jeff Orlowski is an Emmy-winning filmmaker and the founder of Exposure Labs. At Exposure Labs, he creates film projects that pair compelling stories with powerful impact campaigns. He utilized his scuba-diving skills to direct the Emmy-winning Netflix Original Chasing Coral, which documents divers, scientists, and photographers on an underwater mission to explore the disappearance of coral reefs. This work continues the momentum of Orlowski’s Academy Award–nominated and Emmy-winning directing debut, Chasing Ice. In 2016, Orlowski was named the inaugural Sundance Institute Discovery Impact fellow for environmental filmmaking. His films won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival. They have screened for the U.S. Congress, for the United Nations, and on all seven continents.
Alissa Wilkinson joined Vox in 2016 as a staff writer and film critic. Before Vox, she spent a decade writing criticism and essays for a wide variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, Vulture, RogerEbert.com,
the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Christianity Today, and many others. Wilkinson has also appeared as a commentator on many radio and TV programs. Wilkinson is an associate professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in Manhattan, where she teaches criticism, film studies, and cultural theory. She is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and was a writing fellow with Sundance Institute’s 2017 Art of Nonfiction Initiative.
World Cinema Dramatic Jury
Jane Campion is the only female director to receive the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival (1993) and the second of only five women to be nominated for best director at the Academy Awards. Campion went on to win best screenplay. Campion’s first short film, Peel ( 1982), won the Short Film Palme d’Or in 1986 at the Cannes Film Festival. Campion directed her first feature Sweetie in 1989; this was followed by An Angel at My Table (1990), The Piano (1993), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Holy Smoke (1999), In the Cut (2003), and Bright Star (2009). Campion’s six-hour miniseries Top of the Lake (2013) screened at the Berlin International and Sundance Film Festivals, receiving eight Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations. Due to her success, Campion created the sequel, Top of the Lake: China Girl (2017).
Charles Gillibert developed CG Cinéma in 2013 as a mainstay of innovative French film production. The company works to identify and support new directors, restore auteur cinema to the center of the industry, and build bridges between countries and languages. CG Cinéma films have been widely acclaimed at festivals. In 2016, Mustang w on four César Awards and was nominated at the Academy Awards. That same year, Personal Shopper by Olivier Assayas won the Prix de la Mise en Scène at the Cannes Film Festival and Things to Come by Mia Hansen-Løve won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2016 and 2017, CG Cinéma was ranked among the top ten exporters of French film.
Ciro Guerra is a writer and director from Colombia. His first two feature films, La Sombra Del Caminante (The Wandering Shadows) in 2004 and Los Viajes Del Vento (The Wind Journeys) in 2009, have screened in many international film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival (in the Un Certain Regard section), Toronto International Film Festival, San Sebastián International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Festival del film Locarno, and Tribeca Film Festival. His third feature, El Abrazo de La Serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent), won the Art Cinema Award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight and became the first Colombian film nominated for the best foreign language film at the Academy Awards.
World Cinema Documentary Jury
Director Maite Alberdi is known for her documentaries that offer intimate portraits of everyday life. Her films, which include the features The Lifeguard, The Grown-Ups, and Tea Time, have received dozens of international awards, plus nominations for the 2016 Goya Award for Best Ibero-American Film (Tea Time) and European Short Film 2016 (I’m Not From Here) . She also produced Sex Life of Plants, Los Reyes, and They All Come Back. An active educator, Alberdi regularly offers documentary-production and project-development workshops to students and professionals, both in Chile and abroad. In 2012 Alberdi was selected as a “Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum, and in 2018 she became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Nico Marzano is the film curator and head of film distribution at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and founder and director of FRAMES of REPRESENTATION (FoR), a laboratory and film festival founded in 2015 to promote and support the presentation, production, and distribution of new visions of cinema. Marzano has served on numerous international film festival juries and led workshops at the Cannes Film Festival, CPH:DOX, and elsewhere, and he frequently contributes film reviews and essays to Film Ireland and academic film journals. A regular guest lecturer at universities around the United Kingdom, Marzano currently sits on the advisory board of the MA in film studies, programming, and curation at the National Film and Television School in London.
Véréna Paravel is an anthropologist, artist, and filmmaker who works in the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University and in Paris, France. Her works include Leviathan (2012), a collaboration with Lucien Castaing-Taylor that is part of the four-piece project Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a Hook? (2012–2016); Ah humanity! (2015), with Ernst Karel and Castaing-Taylor; and Foreign Parts (2010), with J. P. Sniadecki. In 2017, she co-directed three more video and film projects with Castaing-Taylor: somniloquies and Commensal, both commissioned by documenta 14, and Caniba. Her work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, and elsewhere.
Short Film Jury
Young Jean Lee
Young Jean Lee has written and directed ten shows with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company and toured her work in over thirty cities around the world. Her play Straight White Men premiered on Broadway in 2018. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Obie Awards, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a prize in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a PEN Literary Award, and a United States Artists Fellowship. Her short films have been presented at the Sundance Film Festival, the Festival del film Locarno, and BAMcinemaFest. She is currently working on a screenplay commission for Cinereach.
Carter Smith is a writer, director, and fashion photographer who splits his time between New York City and a tiny island in Maine. His first short film, Bugcrush, won the Jury Prize for short filmmaking at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and went on to disturb way more people than he ever imagined possible. He then directed The Ruins for DreamWorks Pictures before writing and directing Jamie Marks Is Dead, which premiered in dramatic competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Sheila Vand most recently starred as “Ma” in the critically acclaimed We the Animals (2018 Sundance Film Festival NEXT Innovator Prize) and alongside Susan Sarandon in Viper Club (Toronto International Film Festival 2018). Her extensive filmography includes the anthology hit XX (2017 Sundance Film Festival), Paramount’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (opposite Tina Fey), the Sundance hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and the Academy Award–winning film Argo. Other notable credits include her Broadway debut opposite Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Sneaky Nietzsche (her original theatrical experience at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and an ongoing visual art collaboration with TED-fellow Alexa Meade. She will star in TNT’s upcoming series Snowpiercer.
Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned creative pioneers, a writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist whose groundbreaking works have spanned the worlds of art, theatre, and experimental music. Her recent projects include audiovisual installations and a high-definition film for Japan’s Expo 2005; a premiere at Vancouver’s 2010 Cultural Olympiad; dramatic and virtual reality films that have screened at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals; collaborations with Chien-Chen Huang and the Kronos Quartet; and a fifteen-year rotating exhibition at Mass MoCA’s B6. She has received the Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize (2007), Pratt Institute’s honorary Legends Award (2011), and Yoko Ono’s Courage Award for the Arts (2016), and in 2002 she was appointed the first artist-in-residence at NASA.
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Jury
Dr. Mandë Holford is as an associate professor in chemistry at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her research goes from mollusks to medicine, combining chemistry and biology to discover, characterize, and deliver novel peptides from venomous marine snails as tools for manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. Her awards include Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. She was also featured on “Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science,” a short film anthology from Science Friday and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is co-founder of the award-winning KillerSnails.com, which uses games to advance scientific learning in K-12 classrooms.
Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies the universe from beginning to end. Throughout her career, she has explored a range of questions in cosmology, including black holes, dark matter, galaxy formation, and the very early universe. She currently holds the position of assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State University, where she is a member of the Leadership in Public Science faculty cluster. Alongside her academic research, she is an active science communicator and has been published in a number of popular publications such as Scientific American, S late, and Sky & Telescope. She is also a columnist at Cosmos Magazine.
Sev Ohanian is a screenwriter and producer native to Los Angeles. His most recent film, Searching, which he co-wrote and produced, screened at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where Ohanian won both the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and the Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Feature Film. That same year, Searching was released by Sony Screen Gems, and it grossed over $70 million worldwide. He’s currently in production on a film titled Run f or Lionsgate, starring Sarah Paulson. He will next serve as executive producer on Space Jam 2 for Warner Brothers.
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Lydia Dean Pilcher is a founder of Cine Mosaic, a New York-based production company specializing in international co-productions, with expertise in the U.S., Europe, India, Turkey, Africa, and the Middle East. She is inspired by themes of cultural perception and social justice. She has produced over 35 feature films, including 11 in a longstanding collaboration with director Mira Nair. She recently d irected Liberté–A Time to Spy. Before that she p roduced The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO Films and the upcoming Radium Girls, which she also co-directed with Ginny Mohler. Pilcher is a National Chair of PGA Green, a sustainable film task force. She is a longtime environmental activist and a believer in the power of stories to create change.
Best known for his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Congressman Peter Russo in the Netflix series House of Cards, Corey Stoll has made a priority of seeking out varied roles in film, television and theater. In 2019, he will star in the John DeLorean biopic Driven and appear in Scott Z. Burns’s T he Report opposite Adam Driver. Previous roles include Buzz Aldrin in Damien Chazelle’s First Man, Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (for which he received a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination), and supervillain Yellow Jacket in Marvel’s Ant-Man. Theatre credits include Lynn Nottage’s award-winning Intimate Apparel, a Public Theater revival of Plenty, and Gregory Mosher’s Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.