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Sundance names Cara Mertes to run docu section

Sundance Institute announced today the appointment of Cara Mertes as the new Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. Mertes, who is currently the Executive Director of American Documentary, Inc., and
Executive Producer of the PBS documentary showcase P.O.V., has an extensive background in independent non-fiction filmmaking and producing, as well as years of experience in programming, production and fundraising in film, television and on-line.
"After conducting an international search, we are delighted to find someone with Cara’s depth and range of experience. She has built her career around creating and supporting an extraordinary range of documentary films and filmmakers, as well as being an advocate for independent media artists in the United States and around the world," said Ken Brecher, Executive Director, Sundance Institute. "Her background and experience make her a natural fit for the Institute, and we are excited to work with her. Documentary films have always been an important part of the Institute's mission, and we look forward to seeing the new directions that Cara will explore as the Director of the Documentary Program."
In her new position, Mertes will oversee all of the initiatives of the Documentary Film Program, including the Sundance Documentary Fund, the annual Documentary Edit and Story Laboratory, the annual Documentary Composers Laboratory, the House of Docs programming at the Filmmaker Lodge at the Sundance Film Festival, and ongoing, year-round support for documentary filmmakers. She will also be responsible for curating documentary series with partner institutions, acting as liaison with other Sundance entities on documentary initiatives and representing the Institute in the international
documentary community. Mertes will officially start her new position this summer and she will be involved in planning the Documentary Film Labs to be held at Sundance Resort in Utah.
Sundance Institute, founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, has a long history of supporting documentary filmmakers through the Sundance Film Festival and development programs. Building on that tradition, the Documentary Film Program was created in 2000 and expanded in 2001 to include the Sundance Documentary Fund, formerly the Soros Documentary Fund of the Open Society Institute. Today, the Documentary Fund, with the support of OSI and the Ford Foundation, provides documentary filmmakers from around the world with financial grants totalling up to $1 million a year. Formerly under the direction of Diane Weyermann, the Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to and nurtures the growth of nonfiction filmmakers, encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling and promotes the exhibition of documentary
films to broader audiences.

“Guided by Robert Redford’s inspired understanding of the ways in which artistic vision needs to be nurtured, Sundance Institute offers a singular opportunity to think creatively about the enormous potential of the documentary art form in the 21st century,” said Mertes. “I believe that documentary is the most powerful storytelling form today – and that it has become that in large part due to the steadfast commitment of both Sundance Institute and PBS over the past 25 years. In my work through P.O.V. and elsewhere, I have been fortunate to be a part of the Institute and Sundance Film Festival for over 12 of those years as a journalist covering the Festival, as an advisor to documentary filmmakers and with many P.O.V. films. I am excited to bring my passion for contemporary-issue documentary to a place as supportive and forward-thinking as Sundance Institute.”
Cara Mertes is a long time advocate for independent media artists, and an award-winning filmmaker, programmer, teacher and writer whose work has been featured widely in museums, festivals, on PBS and internationally. Since joining P.O.V. in 2000 as Executive Producer, she has been responsible for all aspects of the organization. In that time, Mertes has been nominated for fourteen national News and Documentary Emmys, winning five. She has been recognized with three George Foster Peabody Awards, two duPont-Columbia Awards, and two Academy Award nominations as P.O.V.’s Executive Producer.
In addition, she is creator and Executive Producer of P.O.V.’s original on-line showcase, P.O.V.’s Borders, winner of a Webby Award, a Batten Journalism Award, an On-Line Journalism and Parent’s Choice Award, and she has executive produced over 70 original web sites for the series’ films.
Prior to P.O.V., Mertes was the Executive Producer/Director/Writer of the award-winning SIGNAL TO NOISE: Life with Television, a ground-breaking three-hour PBS series examining the impact of television in everyday life. From 1988-1997, Mertes produced New Television for public television, an annual NEA-funded public television series featuring international experimental video and
filmmakers. From 1988-1993, she programmed and produced Independent Focus for WNET/New York, then the premier public television showcase for American independent video and film. . Mertes has also been an adjunct professor, has advised and served on the boards of many non-profit and media related organizations, and been a speaker and panelist at numerous film schools, film
festivals, and art centers.
She graduated from Vassar College with honors in Film Studies and English, was a Helena Rubenstein Fellow in Curatorial Studies at the Whitney Independent Studies Program and attended Trinity College, Dublin. She is currently completing her Masters at Hunter College in Film and Media Studies with a specialization in independent documentary in public life. Mertes is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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