Published: Nov. 5, 2021 By

Michelle Johnson Anderson (Acct’97) is chief financial officer of the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit focused on supporting those in independent film and theater founded by Robert Redford (A&S ex’58; HonDocHum’87) in 1981. Michelle has worked for the institute for 15 years, and her primary focus is financial planning and reporting financial results — including the annual budget and festival ticket sales — to internal and external stakeholders.

Do you attend the festival each year? 

We have offices in Los Angeles, New York and Park City, where I’m based. The finance department is an important piece of the overall festival, which I’m fortunate to attend. In addition to the flagship Sundance Film Festival, we also partner with organizations in London and Jakarta to produce film festivals, which sadly I do not attend.

Is there a film that premiered through the festival that is a particular favorite for you over the years? 

That’s a tough question! I’m particularly fond of Whale Rider and Sing Street.

What is another Sundance program you are proud of outside of the festival?

 A few years ago, we developed our ‘Co//ab’ platform for creators. We want artists from around the world to learn from each other and from Sundance advisors and staff, develop and share work in progress and connect in a creative community dedicated to storytelling and elevating independent voices. This platform became critical for us as we had to pivot to online programming due to the COVID pandemic.

Have you met Robert Redford? 

I have met Robert Redford on a few occasions throughout my time at Sundance. He’s passionate about the arts and the environment, and had the incredible vision to found the Sundance Institute 40 years ago to support artists of different disciplines.

What is one of your favorite stories from your career? 

On the first Saturday (day three) of the festival in 2017, everything that could go wrong did. First, we had a denial of service attack on our network that delayed the morning opening of all our venues while our technology team rerouted our service. Second, we had a major snowstorm that shut down the interstate between Salt Lake and Park City, stranding our staff and patrons. And lastly, there was the Women’s March on Main Street in Park City that brought out so many people that the central corridor of the city was completely gridlocked for hours. But through it all, our amazing team rallied, and the show went on!

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Photo courtesy Michelle Johnson Anderson