The following is a conversation between Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer WNYM in New York City

Denver: When an event is so iconic, it can overshadow all the other incredible work of the hosting organization. Some might say that is the case with the Sundance Institute. They put on the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival, but they do so much more than that. And to discover what some of that is, in addition to learning more about the festival itself, I’m delighted to have with us tonight the Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, Keri Putnam.

Good evening, Keri, and welcome to the Business of Giving!

Keri Putnam

Keri: Good evening, and thank you for having me.

Denver: Sundance was started by the “Sundance Kid” himself, Robert Redford. What was his founding vision? Share with us some of the history of the Festival and of the Institute.

Keri: Absolutely. Well, Robert Redford was at the height of his movie stardom in 1980, and in fact, had just won the Oscar for Best Picture for directing “Ordinary People.” But he recognized that there was a time in the entertainment industry and in the movie business where “blockbuster culture” was rising: “Jaws” had just happened; “Star Wars” had just happened.

And he, as an artist, had a very personal impulse to try to protect authentic, human, character-driven storytelling, and an idea of stories that come from outside the mainstream, come from maybe storytellers who don’t typically get chosen by big studios, especially in  blockbuster culture.

So, he brought a few of his friends and a bunch of up-and-coming artists to the first Sundance Lab in 1981– which was 10 storytellers working on projects– that were distinctive, authentic, personal, from really diverse perspectives. And from there, that very personal impulse as an artist to share what he loved and what he cared about, the Institute was born.  That was in 1981. In 1985, the Sundance Film Festival, as we know it today, was born. That was about taking the work, some of the work that was beginning to be generated out of the Sundance Labs– which are retreat environments that we still have today for artists now in all sorts of disciplines. Redford was looking for an outlet for those kinds of stories to be shown and created the independent film festival in Park City.

For the first couple years, it was hard going. It wasn’t something that people knew about or wanted to attend, but, suddenly, it began to take off. I think people were craving a different kind of storytelling. People were craving something more immediate, more authentic, more reflective of the world, and the Festival was there to meet that need, and grew.

Denver: That’s fantastic. It is amazing how the founding vision of an organization is really baked into the DNA at the very start because today, after all this time, it really still is your guiding spirit.

Keri: That’s absolutely true, and it’s one of my favorite things about working at Sundance — is how embedded that mission is, and how clear that mission is. And while we think very critically and, I think, responsibly about how to serve that mission in a very different context– in time with digital revolutions and a sort of global media culture, and many different art forms developing aside from the original independent film, I think it’s the grounding of that founding mission… and just sort of the clarity of it, and for me the real urgent need for it, that is so compelling. And what’s great about working at Sundance is I feel every one of my colleagues and the board, everybody is very connected to that. And so, whatever we may do to interpret it, understand that it’s tethered.

This is about who’s going to be influencing our culture, both aesthetically and topically, in terms of representation in the future.

Denver:  It’s so great to hear you say that because, again, I think a lot of people look at the Festival as a big marketplace, of which it is, but that is secondary to this vision that Bob Redford came with.

So, the film festival, when is it held? Where is it held? Park City, you said. That’s in Utah. Give us an idea of some of the notable figures who were discovered, if I may say so, at the Sundance Film Festival.

Keri: First, I’ll tell you about when it’s held. It’s held in January for 10 days in Park City, Utah and in Salt Lake City, Utah. We actually have two hubs, as well as up in Provo at the Sundance Resort, which is the property that Redford and his family own where the Labs take place. So, we have three hubs of the festival. We have 120,000 unique attendees every year. We have about 200 works of art, now in a variety of disciplines: documentary, feature film, new media.  

And over the years, we’ve really defined our space in the festival world as discovering and amplifying and providing a launchpad for new voices. So, this is about what’s next. This is about who’s going to be influencing our culture, both aesthetically and topically, in terms of representation in the future. And so, starting in the very early years, we had the first film from Quentin Tarantino. We had early work from Steven Soderbergh… I think the first film from Steven Soderbergh. We also had a lot of women and a lot of people from different backgrounds in the very early years. We had Allison Anders, who was one of the first women directors at Sundance, and many, many others. But over the years, Kimberly Peirce who did “Boys Don’t Cry,” and then more recently Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, who now directs movies like “Thor” for Marvel, as well as independent content. And some wonderful documentary filmmakers: Laura Poitras, Roger Ross Williams.

Denver: Impressive list.

Keri: It’s a wonderful list, Yes!

Denver: You just mentioned that you have 200 projects, but I know that comes from 15,000 submissions. So, Keri, how in the world do you narrow that down from 15,000 to 200?

Keri: Well, I don’t do that myself. So, we have a wonderful team of programmers led by Kim Yutani, our Director of Programming, and our Festival Director, John Cooper. And together, they have a system.

The short films account for a large majority of that 15,000. I think the short films are probably about 8 – 9 thousand of that. And so we have a whole team of short programmers who start in the summer. They each watch about a thousand films before they’re finished, and together they make their final selections in a panel at the end. And the same thing happens with the features. It’s about 4 thousand, maybe a few more features, and it’s just a winnowing process. But every film gets screened, beginning to end.

Denver: That’s very impressive.

Keri: Many films get screened multiple times in order to have a really robust conversation. What I love about their process is, in the final, they put the top, say 300, into a single room and they just duke it out. And really it’s about what they’re passionate about.  But it’s not about any singular point of view. What’s really critical, I think, is having a lot of voices of different kinds in that room, and that allows us to have a really cool and diverse selection.

Denver: Yes. I think I read somewhere that you would rather have something that people hate, rather than something people feel indifferent about.  Just have passion, one way or the other, because that rises for one reason or another.

Keri: That’s right. Well, I learned shortly after I got there that there is a rating system that the programmers employ, and things get a one to five. Four or five is great; that always would get a second screening, but actually often the 1’s– the ones that are reviled– are the ones that also get a second look because if a film or any kind of art really evokes a strong point of view, a strong reaction – negative or positive – there’s some traction there. There’s some spice there, and so that’s what we look for.

Denver: I don’t know much about television, but I do know that even shows like Seinfeld had a very, very small audience and probably would have been canceled based on the number of  the audience. But the people who did view it felt so crazily passionate about it, that passion is actually more important than numbers.

Keri: Exactly. And sometimes if you’re doing something very aesthetically adventurous or something that hasn’t been seen before, a reviewer can look at it and be confused or put off, but actually, as it as it sort of gets out into the world and gets embraced, it can lead us to whole new places.

Denver: What do you believe has been the most significant impact of Sundance on the film industry? On its audiences? On the culture itself?

Keri: I think our most significant impact is to, as I said earlier, support artists who tell stories, and now we do that in a variety of forms. We work in series. We work in theater. We work in documentary. We work in feature film, of course. But supporting artists who tell stories to define their own voices, to not think about telling stories based on what is going to be commercial in the marketplace, what’s going to be successful to an audience, but actually what reflects the world we live in. And to me, a media culture that doesn’t have that dimension is a dangerous thing for our democracy.

So, I think our biggest impact is bringing voices from the margins into the mainstream, bringing voices of all different kinds to properly hold a mirror up to the society that we’re living in, in ways that people can really engage with… because storytelling is quite accessible. So, that, for me, is the main case for what we do because we believe that those stories have the power not just to delight or entertain, but also to build connections, empathy, and possibly even social change, depending on where they’re heading. So that’s our core case statement.

Additionally, as you mentioned, we have a marketplace. Part of the reason we have a marketplace is because you can tell a story in film, but if you don’t end up getting distributed, it’s the tree in the forest. So, it is important for us to think about not only: How do we support these creators in telling the stories they want to tell?  But how do we give them a launchpad to be able to get them to the audiences that they want to reach? So, as we think about the marketplace at Sundance and the fact that people come in, having financed their films on their credit cards… or however they’ve done it… and end up reaching millions of people…that’s a huge impact, I think, to be that launchpad.

And then third, the question of who’s telling stories. I’m sure you’re familiar with the woeful lack of representation of most of the population in terms of who’s telling stories on mainstream film and television. And so, we’ve been very committed for a long time to amplifying all different kinds of voices. And the success rate we’ve had in getting the artists that have maybe had their start at Sundance, move into careers in film and television… outside of the work we support directly, has been quite extraordinary as well. So, diversifying the mainstream media, creating the independent film sector, and then that launchpad between the two.

Denver: Let’s pick up on that last point. What does it look like right now in terms of the numbers? In terms of women and people of color? As you said, you’ve been a champion for that across the industry, but also particularly behind the camera. I know we have a long way to go, but what kind of progress has been made?

Keri: I’ll talk about women for a minute. In the studies that have been published so far, notably by Stacy Smith at USC Annenberg, who we’ve been partnered with for many years now in doing research on our own data, the percentage of women directing the top 100 box office films is still hovering around 4%. The percent of women showrunners in television, which is the senior creative job in that field, is a little bit higher, but still hovering around 10%, I would think. The signs of progress though are there. I’ve been working on this issue at Sundance and in the field as a whole for a long time, and what I’ve been seeing is a real hunger for recognizing that this is a problem, a real hunger to find places and jobs to employ more women behind the camera… and to think about an understanding that wasn’t there several years ago, that stories by, about, and for women have a market. It’s silly to ignore half the population when you’re creating commercial stories.

Denver: I think sometimes people believe they are women’s stories, but there are lessons for every person.

Sundance has been a champion of this for a very, very long time.  And Goodness knows! We have a very long way to go yet. But what kind of progress have we been able to make?

Keri: Well, so far we haven’t seen a lot of tangible progress in terms of the numbers that are coming out of the research annually, in terms of representation of women of color behind the camera; and those numbers are really bad in commercial, film, and television. Women directors of the top 100 box office are still at about 4.5% of the total. Women of color barely even register on the percentage, and men of color… not much better. So, I think the progress as measured by the data has not yet hit, but what I’m seeing is the pipeline of talent is really exciting, and people in decision-making roles who are financing content are recognizing that there’s a vast untapped marketplace for stories about people who are not straight, white men.

And so I think the combination of the talent ready for opportunity and a recognition that there’s a market out there is going to lead to the change we want to see.  But we also have to recognize that there’s a lot of entrenched culture around how decisions are made, what’s deemed commercial, who’s deemed ready for leadership behind it the camera. These are things we have to work on through culture shift, leadership shift, awareness change, and we try to do a bit of all of that through our advocacy efforts.

Denver: Because it really all gets down to the money because I think if you take a look at your labs, it’s 50-50 more or less. But when you look at this 4%, it has to do with who is receiving the financing. We had Jean Case of the Case Foundation on the show recently, and we were talking about venture capital. Only 3% of all the money goes to women. Now, more projects, I think it’s 10% of women, but of the actual dollars, only 3%, and you have somewhat of a parallel here in the industry, where they just can’t get the financing to get their great ideas out on the big screen.

Keri: That’s exactly right. Stacy Smith at USC Annenberg calls it the “fiscal cliff”  for women and creators of color; and really what we find at Sundance is a great dataset for that. And when we opened up our data of over 13 years of submissions to our labs, our festival, acceptances, and then looking at how people build careers, we found a significant gap between women and other underrepresented voices, and their male counterparts in terms of advancing their careers, seeking and getting financing from labs to festival, and then going on to the next steps, making second films.

Keri Putnam and Denver Frederick inside the studio


And what we failed to recognize is bringing a wide array of stories, both domestic and international, from many different kinds of storytellers, and having them all mediated by a press that looks very homogenous

Denver: Keri, if there had been a blind spot around diversity and inclusion, it might have been the critics who were invited to come and review the films at the Sundance Film Festival, but you have really addressed that issue in a big way. Tell us what you’ve done.

Keri: I think we had a blind spot. If I’m honest, we in our organization spend so much time thinking about how we curate, how we select the projects that we support, both at our labs and in the festival. And we think a lot about the table setting for launching them into the world in terms of the industry we invite, the ways we promote the work. But the missing piece was the press.

And what we failed to recognize is bringing a wide array of stories, both domestic and international, from many different kinds of storytellers, and having them all mediated by a press that looks very homogenous. Most of the critics in this country are again straight, white men, and the cultural mediation that happens in the way a critic receives a new piece of work can be make-or- break for that work… going on to get a deal, or going on to meet the audiences, which, of course, is the goal.

So, a year ago, I was having a conversation with some of the filmmakers at the festival who were experiencing this problem who said, “We knew that they had a wonderful film, but somehow the reviewers weren’t getting it.” And I remember one conversation in particular with Boots Riley, who made a film called “Sorry To Bother You,” who felt that the critics of the festival were sort of missing the point that he knew his audiences would get. And, of course, he did get a terrific deal, and his movie came out and did beautifully in the market, not just for the audience that he imagined, but for many audiences. But it was a moment where he was at risk of being misinterpreted.

So we decided to try to do something about it, and with the support of an incredible consortium of funders that we assembled pretty quickly… because it was something that we had to create an intervention on quickly… including the Ford Foundation and Nathan Cummings that have been real leaders in this area in particular… as well as OSF and MacArthur and Emerson Collective, and some corporations, too — Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes. We decided to invite a vastly different group of press to join the traditional press corps that comes to Sundance.

We provided stipends to enable them to come because it’s quite expensive, and then mentorship and orientation, and helped them interpret the festival however they chose to interpret it, but recognizing that having different sort of voices in the room would make a difference in terms of how the work was received. And together, those critics that we brought in, which ended up being 63% of our press corps from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, I think they got 123 million impressions on their stories, so it’s pretty great.

Denver: Pretty great. Did you see a difference in terms of the way these films were reviewed and how they are now faring from this past festival?

Keri: It’s too early to say that. I think what we felt is a difference in the public square at the festival, which is how I like to think about the festival. It’s this communal space where we share art and ideas, and I think it’s always richer for having more voices in it.

Denver: What caught my attention before is when you said that Sundance Labs actually preceded the Sundance Film Festival, and I guess that underscores the importance that Robert Redford had put on trying to help filmmakers in a whole variety of ways. Tell us a little bit about that– what you do for these filmmakers, and about some of your labs.

Keri: Absolutely. Well, as I mentioned, the very first lab was for writer-directors in independent film. The model that was set there has been adapted over the years but really worked and we’ve largely kept, which is selecting artists based on their project, bringing them to a retreat environment, which we believe that connection between creativity and nature in a retreat is really special for what can happen creatively, and then surrounding them with mentors, peers with more experience, but peers in their fields to develop the language of their particular piece of work. This is not about general education. This is not like film school where you’re learning how to write a scene or how to shoot a scene. You’re really trying to figure out what your voice is as an artist, what your project is. It’s extremely customized.

And so, our Directors Lab continues today. It’s a three-and-a-half week residency in the mountains of Utah. But in addition, we’ve moved into other forms, as I mentioned before. So we have Documentary Edit Labs. We have a two Theater Maker Labs. We have Film Music. We have New Frontier, which is stories that live on the intersection of art and technology, sort of pushing new media forward, which is pretty amazing. We have Producers labs and a wide array of episodic storytelling, series storytelling, wide array of disciplines.

We also have recognized more recently, I think, that supporting artist projects in the form of labs is terrific and unique for us as a model that we built, but it’s also important to think about the life of the artist, the whole artist. And so we’ve launched several fellowships — separate from supporting a project– to really supporting an artist, either in an emerging career, moving towards making their first big work, or sustaining careers— thinking about how you get to your second film. We have a fellowship called FilmTwo, specifically for addressing that problem we were talking about earlier, about the lag time that a lot of creators have between getting their first project and their second one, particularly if they’re women or other underrepresented storytellers. So fellowships are now a big part of what we do.

Denver: That is fantastic. Because I don’t think enough people think about the livelihoods of these artists. We are thinking about them getting funding for their project, but in the meantime, they have to live someplace and they have to eat. I know you and I were talking before we got on the air about how venture philanthropy and venture capital never thinks of the artistic community when they’re thinking about trying to create some social impact. We think about the on-the-ground social entrepreneur, but profound change comes from the arts. It’s a different part of people’s brains, and they look and think about an issue completely differently. So I’m so glad to see that you’re doing something in that arena.

Keri: There’s a lot of science behind that too, in terms of what narratives penetrate our fixed ways of thinking, and it is stories. I think we’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have a lot of foundations who do work. I mean one great example, the Skoll Foundation, who works with social entrepreneurs all over the world, does recognize the power of storytelling in the work of their entrepreneurs, and we’ve had a 10-year partnership with them called Stories of Change that  puts storytellers and artists and social entrepreneurs together to try to create awareness and an engagement with some of these important issues around the world that people have trouble really relating to, without a piece of media or a piece of art to help them get to. And there’s many other partners like that that we have.

I think what we find in particular is that in documentary, people are recognizing that nonfiction storytelling can move forward really important issues. Another great example for us is we had a film called “The Invisible War,” which is about rape in the military. And that film – Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering – was made independently, deep investigation, but in the end, it got to the top of the chain in the military and really made changes in the way procedures happened and awareness about these issues. Media does work.

Denver:  Keri, That raises a good point. Sundance does have an extensive network of partners and affiliates and contributors and supporters. What is the business model of the Institute?  And how do you get all this work done?

Keri: I’m really glad you asked that question because I think there’s a perception because the festival is so well-known, because the festival has a marketplace attached to it, that somehow the festival and the ticket sales and the buzz around that drive what we do. In fact, the model for our organization is: 67% of our revenue is contributed; the rest is earned revenue from ticket sales and merchandise and other stuff associated with the festival. And out of that 67%, it’s about a third, a third, and a third corporations, foundations, and individuals, and we really rely on a wide range of stakeholders to help make this storytelling world come to life.

And I really love to share with people that there are so many ways to engage with Sundance as a believer in art and sort of aesthetics and creativity, but also thinking about art as a tool for social change, thinking about representation as a way to make a fairer world in terms of the stories that we see that help us tell us what we value. So that’s the kind of people that come to us.

Denver: Another thing that’s been a big challenge is trying to even the playing field some, where the power of data can get into the hands of the independent creator… because at the end of the day, it’s a competitive marketplace: Who is the audience? How do you market it? How do you do comps when you want to try to get financing for it? And here you’re going against the studios; you’re going against the platform, so it’s a considerable disadvantage for the Independent. I know you have tried to get your arms around that a little bit. Tell us about how that’s been going.

Keri: I think access to data today is power.

Denver: No matter what the industry. You’re absolutely right.

Keri: And the power is being aggregated in the hands of  very few, as we see the consolidation that’s happening in the media business overall. You’ve heard about all these mergers and all the changes that have happened. And, of course, with the rise of the technology-based streamers that you know – Netflix and Amazon and others – that have harnessed the power of data to market in really targeted ways, it’s been both a great opportunity for a lot of storytellers to be able to be on those platforms and have access to the data that they have. But that data is held very tightly by all of those companies, and it is a small minority of great independent artists who actually get the chance to be on those platforms.

So, for the rest of them, it’s sort of feast or famine because if you don’t have access to data and you don’t have the ability to leverage technologies that exist to help you find the audience that might want to see your work through data, through recognizing patterns in terms of viewership, it becomes much more difficult. So we did try to launch a project to address this and thought about trying to create a commune of data-sharing among independent artists, and it ended up being really difficult, even to get the independent artists who had sold the rights to be able to report on their own data that was owned by a company; so it was really hard to do.

Denver: You have said that when you lead an organization, you find yourself thinking a lot about the corporate culture. How do you think about workplace culture, Keri? And what are some of the specific things that you’ve done to make the Sundance Institute a really special place to work?

Keri: Yes, I do. I think it’s hugely important, and I love my colleagues at Sundance.

I talked about it a little at the beginning. I think alignment around purpose, and really believing that being animated by a mission or a purpose is something that connects us and is why we come to work every day, and bringing that into the work as much as we can. So connecting everybody who works in the organization, whether they’re in finance or human resources or on the front lines with the artists, with the idea of why we do what we do. That’s a really important first thing.

The other things are:  Good ideas come from anywhere, so finding formats and finding context where we can share ideas across disciplines, across programs, break down the walls that exist between traditional functions. We’ve spent a lot of time on trying to find new ways of working that are more team-oriented, and it can be a really big culture shift to do that. But I think the benefits in terms of the imagination and the efficiency that comes out of that sort of work is terrific.

Denver: And everybody feels a real part of the organization, as opposed to being into their little cubbyhole, doing their things. They feel that they can have  voice across the organization, and it also helps provide clarity for their own job, knowing how it leads to the mission. They know exactly what they do that ultimately gets us to the ultimate objective.

Keri: Yes, that’s the goal. And nothing’s perfect. Like many organizations that have grown, we’ve grown pretty significantly over the past several years as we’ve expanded into more disciplines and expanded that artist-centered practice that I mentioned. And growth can be challenging on a culture– so figuring out how to marry the sort of agility and forward-looking qualities that we’re seeking in the work we want to do going forward, with that firm grounding in the mission, and the history, and the legacy of the organization. That’s an exciting aspect of creating culture because that becomes the vital mix you’re looking for.

I also learned at HBO the power of a shared, clear mission because we had it. We understood that the kinds of stories we were going to support were going to break new ground in different ways than what network television was doing at that time.

Denver:  And it all gets down to communication as well because every time you grow, the old way of communicating is no longer effective for this larger cohort which you have. So, you have to think about how to get that message across.

Tell us a little bit about your personal journey. Now I know that it started with books and stories, and then thanks to your parents in New Jersey, it reached out to theater. But tell us a little bit about that background and some of the milestones in your career.

Keri: Absolutely. Well, I’ve always loved stories, as you have, as an avid geek, I guess, as a kid, just reading books mostly and immersing myself in other worlds, and I just loved that. And theater was the first accessible art form – living, as you said, in New Jersey – that I could get to frequently. And I saw some terrific theater that really opened my mind in my high school years. And I ended up studying theater, working in the nonprofit theater during college and a little bit after, but found my way through my love of writers, and by complete happenstance, to HBO where I was hired by a guy who was trying to bring theater to television.

I was hired as an assistant, at the very bottom. I didn’t know anything. I got my foot in the door. I was a very bad assistant, but I had a really great set of mentors at that company. And I was lucky to be in HBO at a time where it was just really getting off the ground in terms of original programming. And so learning how to develop stories, work with writers, and then ultimately do productions, my rate of learning was growing at about the same rate as the company. So I was able to stay there a long time and grow and learn and watch HBO become a powerhouse through the power of storytelling.

I also learned at HBO the power of a shared, clear mission because we had it. We understood that the kinds of stories we were going to support were going to break new ground in different ways than what network television was doing at that time.

Denver: Those were heady days. You were changing the world!

Keri: It felt great to be part of it, and I was a relatively small part of it until years later. So I spent a good part of my career at HBO, and then I was offered the chance to run production at the Disney-run Miramax, which was after Harvey Weinstein left the company. I loved that opportunity, too, because you know, I got to work with the sorts of filmmakers like Stephen Frears on “The Queen,” or the Coen brothers on “No Country for Old Men,” or Paul Thomas Anderson on “There Will Be Blood,” and many others. Just the films were wonderful; colleagues were great. Unfortunately, Disney was going in a different direction in terms of where Bob Iger wanted to take the company, and Miramax wasn’t in his plans; so it got shut down.

And that for me was the real watershed moment, because I looked around in my own way and said, “I’ve loved working with storytellers that have very distinctive voices and are doing something a bit more personal, and I see where the studios are going, I see where my next job will be if I end up in the in the sort of conventional studio world.”  And then I heard about the Sundance job. I didn’t even know this job existed and was lucky enough to get a chance to try it, and I haven’t looked back. It’s been fantastic.

Denver: It sounds that way. One of the fabulous things about working at Sundance is that you get to see exactly what’s going on in the culture, perhaps can spot some trends before the rest of us can. So with that being said, do you sense or see anything now that people like me will be hearing about for the first time in about three years?

Keri: That’s a great question.  On the documentary side right now, we’re seeing a ton of interesting stories about AI and about data ethics, and about what’s privacy, and what we’ve given up in a sort of a dystopian way in terms of the conveniences that we have. And I think as these stories come, we’ll then see some narrative stories that go into that territory. And I think there’s a whole new future of dystopian nonfiction and fiction that we might see around that.

Additionally, I think there’s been–I look at something like “The Farewell,” which is a movie by Lulu Wang that was at our festival this year.  It’s a family drama about Asian-American characters. It’s a kind of a story that everybody can relate to but has a different set of people than you typically see in films. And I think more and more, we’re seeing stories that represent a fuller spectrum of people, going into genres and places and forms that we might typically have not seen inhabited by a wide range of people. So I’m looking forward to seeing more of those coming in the future.

Denver: It’s fresh stuff. Some of the other stuff has gotten a little tired and a little worn. These are completely new stories. As far as AI is concerned, it’s interesting how these documentaries were just science fiction movies a while ago, and now they’re actually–but they’re not that much different.

Keri: Absolutely.

Denver: Well, Keri Putnam, the executive director of the Sundance Institute, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. Tell us about your website, what people will find there, and what people can do if they would like to support this work.

Keri: Absolutely. Well, it’s, and you can find plenty of ways to engage with our work there. You can become a member; we have members all over the world; support storytelling in that way. You can be a partner; you can be a major donor. There’s plenty of ways to engage. But also, take a look at something new we launched on our website. It’s called Sundance Collab and it’s a platform, just in beta now, we launched to empower independent storytellers all over the world. We started it about six months ago, and I think we already have more than 12,000 storytellers in about 200 countries sharing their work, sharing ideas, amplifying new voices. So they can look at that, too.

Denver: Well, thanks, Keri. It was a real pleasure to have you on the show.

Keri: Thank you for having me.

Keri Putnam and Denver Frederick

The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter, @bizofgive on Instagram and at

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