Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson Makes First Appearance at London Event After Revealing She’s Stepping Down

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Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson appeared in person at the London outpost of the festival on Thursday, just two days after confirming she’s stepping down from her role.

When asked by Variety what she plans to do next, Jackson, who has worked at Sundance since 2013 and took on the festival director role in 2020, replied: “A hammock, a cocktail and to think about how to support arts going forward.”

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During her appearance at Sundance London, where she was interviewed by “Best Girl Grip” podcast host Nicole Davis, the British executive didn’t touch on why she had chosen to resign from the role, to which she was appointed only two years ago.

However, in reply to Davis’s question about what is the “biggest learning curve of your career so far,” she hinted at what may have driven the decision when she replied: “This two-year learning curve, being director of the festival during this pandemic and this time and all the messiness and complexity that comes with that.”

She noted that the London edition of the festival was the first in-person Sundance she had attended in her role as director, the previous editions having moved online due to the pandemic.

Jackson also revealed that when she had first been offered the role as director she had almost turned it down. “I didn’t want to leave the creative process, I was very reluctant,” she said. “Sundance is an incredible festival — world-class — and it’s a complex organism as a non-profit institute and a non-profit festival.

“It requires an incredible balance of the work, the people, the values, the revenue, the sustainability, the safety, the transportation, and it’s like — I just want to do the nice, soft squishy bit there. And so I didn’t want to take on the festival, and I said no. And then I went and thought about it and thought if the reason I have spent the last almost 30 years in this thing, it’s because I believe in the cultural power of the work that we all do and the festival is one of the most incredibly potent cultural tools and so how could I not have a go at it.”

Jackson is due to wrap up her directorial duties soon after the London edition of the festival, which runs from Thursday to Sunday (June 12). Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente will act as interim director while the festival searches for Jackson’s replacement.

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