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Jeremy O. Harris, Marlee Matlin, Destin Daniel Cretton Headline 2023 Sundance Juries

Eliza Hittman and Jim Gaffigan also head up this year's Sundance juries.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: Jeremy O. Harris attends the WSJ. Magazine 2022 Innovator Awards at Museum of Modern Art on November 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Jeremy O. Harris

Getty Images

The Sundance Institute has announced the jurors for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off next week in Park City, Utah. Per usual, the teams tasked with selecting winners in the Dramatic, Documentary, World Cinema, and Short Film Competitions contain an eclectic mix of prominent artists working in film, theatre, book publishing, and visual arts.

Notable jurors include comedian Jim Gaffigan, “Slave Play” and “Zola” writer Jeremy O. Harris, and “Short Term 12” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” director Destin Daniel Cretton.

“The jury plays a crucial role in the Festival by amplifying breakthrough works and providing the audience with further opportunities for discovery,” Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente said in a statement. “We thank them for their dedication to artistic excellence and their thoughtful lens on cinematic expression and all that independent film offers.”

“We are thrilled to welcome these esteemed and accomplished visionaries to the Festival as our jury,” Sundance Director of Programming Kim Yutani added. “Together they will embark on a journey through our program to highlight the artistic achievements and honor the compelling storytelling in this year’s Festival. We can’t wait to hear what they think.”

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival will take place in Park City, Utah, January 19-29. Keep reading for a complete list of jurors, with biography information provided by Sundance.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION JURY

Jeremy O. Harris is the playwright and creator of the most Tony-nominated Broadway play ever, “Slave Play.” His play “Daddy” opened to great acclaim at the Almeida Theatre in London in March 2022, and in Japan at the Tokyo Globe Theatre and Cool Japan Park Osaka. Jeremy co-wrote A24’s critically-acclaimed feature “Zola” alongside director Janicza Bravo, which won two 2022 Independent Spirit Awards. His television credits include HBO’s “Euphoria” and TV adaptation of “Irma Vep.”

Eliza Hittman is an award-winning filmmaker. Her latest film, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features, 2020), had its U.S. premiere at Sundance, where it won a special jury prize. Hittman received the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category at Sundance the year of her second feature, “Beach Rats” (NEON, 2017). Her debut feature, “It Felt Like Love” (2013), premiered at Sundance in NEXT and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

Marlee Matlin’s first film, “Children of a Lesser God,” garnered her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her 35-year career includes “CODA,” which broke records at Sundance and went on to win the SAG Award for Best Ensemble and the Academy Award for Best Picture. Nominated for four Emmy Awards, she also starred in the Tony Award-nominated revival of “Spring Awakening.” In 2023, Matlin will make her directorial debut for Sony’s “Accused” on Fox.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION JURY

W. Kamau Bell is a comedian and director and executive producer of the Showtime documentary, “We Need To Talk About Cosby.” He’s the host and executive producer of CNN’s “United Shades of America” and the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Do The Work: An Antiracist Activity Book,” co-written with Kate Schatz.

Ramona S. Diaz is a Peabody, Gotham, IDA, and Emmy award-winning Asian American filmmaker best known for her character-driven documentaries that combine a profound appreciation for cinematic aesthetics and potent storytelling. Her films – “Imelda, Motherland,” and “A Thousand Cuts,” among others – have been screened and won awards at Sundance, Berlin, Busan, HotDocs, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. Diaz is both a Guggenheim and a USA Fellow.

Carla Gutiérrez, ACE, edited the Oscar-nominated films “RBG” and “La Corona.” Her latest film, “Julia,” premiered at Telluride and played at the Toronto Film Festival. She edited the Emmy nominated “Pray Away” for Netflix. Her work has received awards at Sundance, Tribeca, Berlinale, the Critics’ Choice Awards, the National Board of Review, and the duPont-Columbia Awards. Gutiérrez was nominated for an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award and is  a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION JURY

Shozo Ichiyama is a film producer based in Tokyo, known for “Flowers of Shanghai” by Hou Hsiao-hsien and “A Touch of Sin” by Jia Zhang-ke, as well as the programming director of Tokyo International Film Festival.

Annemarie Jacir has written, directed, and produced over 16 films with premieres at Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and Toronto. All three of her features were Palestine’s Oscar entries. She shot the first feature by a Palestinian woman director, the acclaimed “Salt of this Sea.” Founder of Philistine Films, Jacir regularly collaborates with fellow filmmakers as an editor, screenwriter, and producer. She has been a jury member for numerous festivals, including Cannes and Berlin.

Funa Maduka is an award-winning filmmaker and the former head of international original films at Netflix where she worked with the world’s top global and upcoming filmmakers. She pioneered Netflix’s move into international film production and her film acquisitions garnered multiple Academy Award nominations. Funa also wrote, directed, and produced the first Nigerian film to world premiere at Sundance. Alongside her own creative projects, Funa’s current entrepreneurial venture focuses on developing talent across the emerging markets globally. 

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION JURY

Karim Amer is an Egyptian-American Emmy, BAFTA, and Academy Award nominated filmmaker. He has directed and produced several award-winning films and docuseries, including “The Lincoln Project” (Showtime), “Flight/Risk” (Amazon Prime Video), “The Vow” (HBO), and “The Great Hack” (Netflix). Additionally, he was also a producer on “Ramy” (Hulu), “The Breadwinner,” “Rafea: Solar Mama,” “The Square,” and “You Resemble Me.” Amer is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Petra Costa is a Brazilian documentary filmmaker whose work lives on the borderlines of the personal and political. She directed “The Edge of Democracy” (2019), which was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2020; “Undertow Eyes” (2009); “Elena” (2012); and “Olmo and the Seagull” (2015). Petra is associate producer of Bárbara Paz’s “Babenco” (2019), producer of Moara Passoni’s “Ecstasy” (2020), and executive producer of Rebeca Huntt’s “BEBA” (2021).

Alexander Nanau’s documentary, “The World According to Ion B.” (2009), was awarded an International Emmy Award in 2010. “Toto and his Sisters” (2014) premiered at the San Sebastian IFF and was a European Academy Award nominee in 2015. His latest documentary “Collective” (2019) premiered at the Venice IFF and was nominated for Best International Feature (Romania) and Best Documentary at the Academy Awards in 2021. Nanau is teaching and mentoring at several international film universities and film labs.

NEXT JUROR

Madeleine Olnek is a New York City director-playwright, Guggenheim fellow, and award-winning filmmaker, and has had four films at Sundance: “Hold Up,” “Countertransference,” “The Foxy Merkins,” and “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.” She wrote and directed the first onscreen portrayal of a queer Emily Dickinson in the groundbreaking “Wild Nights With Emily,” starring Molly Shannon. As a playwright, Madeleine belonged to the Emerging Playwrights Lab at New York’s Public Theater; in downtown NYC performance spaces she wrote and directed over 24 of her original plays. She is a co-author of “A Practical Handbook for The Actor” (Vintage/Random House/foreword by David Mamet), a widely used acting text which is required reading at many universities.

SHORT FILM PROGRAM COMPETITION JURY

Destin Daniel Cretton was born in Maui and his short film “Short Term 12” won a Jury Prize at Sundance in 2009. Following this, he wrote and directed the feature “Short Term 12,” winning a Jury Prize and Audience Award at SXSW in 2013. He went on to write and direct “The Glass Castle” (Lionsgate), “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros.), and “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Marvel Studios). 

Marie-Louise Khondji is the founder of Le Cinéma Club — a free, curated streaming platform presenting one film a week, with an emphasis on short formats. Prior to Le Cinéma Club, she worked in film production and distribution. She was an associate producer of Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Heaven Knows What” (2014) and Antonio Campos’ “Simon Killer” (2012). She is currently working with Robert Pattinson on his new production company.

Deborah Stratman is an artist and filmmaker who makes work that investigates issues of power, control and belief, exploring how places, ideas, and society are intertwined. Her multi-disciplinary practice is anchored in the sonic and cinematic. Recent projects have addressed freedom, surveillance, sinkholes, comets, evolution, extinction, exodus, sisterhood and faith.  Her 40+ films have been exhibited and awarded internationally. She lives in Chicago where she teaches at the University of Illinois.

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY

Dr. Heather Berlin is a neuroscientist, clinical psychologist, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. A passionate science communicator, Berlin has hosted series on PBS and Discovery Channel, and co-wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway and Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows, “Off the Top” and “Impulse Control.” She appears regularly on “StarTalk” with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the History Channel, Netflix, and National Geographic.

Jim Gaffigan is a six-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer, two-time New York Times best-selling author and three-time Emmy winner. A staple of Sundance, Gaffigan’s many indie credits range from “Tesla” to “Troop Zero.” For Gaffigan’s indie omnipresence he recently received the Maverick Award at Cinequest. In 2023 Gaffigan will co-star in David Lowery’s “Peter Pan & Wendy,” Sloan Award winning “Linoleum,” “Susie Searches,” “Providence,” and Jerry Seinfeld’s highly anticipated directorial debut “Unfrosted.”

Dr. Mandë Holford is Marine Chemical Biologist at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at The American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her mollusks to medicine research use venoms and venomous marine animals to study rapidly evolving genes and cellular communication in pain and cancer. She co-founded Killer Snails, LLC, an award winning EdTech learning games company. Honors include: A Distinguished Investigator Award from Allen Institute, an E.E. Just Fellow by the Marine Biological Laboratory, a Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Breakthrough Women in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NPR’s Science Friday, a Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Fellow, and Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Her PhD is from The Rockefeller University.

Shalini Kantayya is an Award-winning filmmaker who’s film “Coded Bias” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary, a Critics’ Choice Award, and an NAACP Image award, and now streams on Netflix. Her debut feature, “Catching the Sun,” executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, released on Netflix and was named a NY Times Critics’ Pick. Her most recent film “TikTok, Boom was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and broadcast on PBS.    

Lydia Dean Pilcher is a Writer/Director and two-time Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominated Producer of over 40 feature films with auteur directors including twelve films in a longstanding collaboration with Mira Nair. in 2018, Pilcher co-directed the dramatic feature, “Radium Girls,” starring Joey King, and next directed “A Call to Spy,” a female-driven World War II spy thriller available on Netflix. She recently completed the sci-fi film “Homing Instinct.”

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