A Few Questions for Sundance's New Leader

Earlier this week John Cooper was chosen to lead one of the country's most prominent film festivals. Cooper tells Advocate.com about his new post.

BY Kyle Buchanan

March 12 2009 11:00 PM ET

Just weeks ago, Geoff Gilmore left his longtime post as director of the Sundance Film Festival, opening up a slot that was neatly filled by Sundance vet John Cooper. Formerly the festival's director of programming, Cooper's promotion heralds the arrival of an out gay man at the helm of the country's most influential film festival. We spoke to Cooper to get his take on the new gig, and to find out where Sundance -- and the queer cinema presented there -- are headed.

Congratulations! Have you gotten your new business cards yet?No. [ Laughs ] In this economic crisis, I thought they were going to make me just write on my old ones with Magic Marker.

So, I think everyone was pretty much shocked by Geoff leaving. What was your reaction? Were you privy to the fact that this was coming down the pike?It's that weird thing when you're startled that something actually happened, but I knew that he was looking for other situations. I knew that he really wanted to move to New York, but I wasn't sure if that would lead to more Sundance Channel stuff or what. But he'd been looking for a while, and he'd been up for this change.

And then, just from talking to some other people, I think the common consensus was, Oh, John Cooper is totally getting a promotion. That's a no-brainer. Was it a no-brainer on the inside too?It was a weird thing...the day after, it was like, "Well, why isn't anyone offering me the job?" But then I realized that these things have to go to a board and work their way through. They could have done a search, which actually just prolongs things...I was up for it, I could have done that, but I'm glad they didn't because now I can just get to work. I mean, we're right in the beginning stage of planning and budget and all that stuff.

Tags: film

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