The Sundance Institute has announced that former director of festival programming, John Cooper, is now the official director of the world-famous Sundance Film Festival. Cooper replaces Geoff Gilmore, the longtime former director who resigned earlier this year after more than two decades with the fest. Cooper’s new responsibilities as director will include leading the programming and future growth of the festival, along with supervising the festival’s content production and furthering its multiple partnerships.

Realizing that independent film is an ever-changing industry, Cooper plans to do whatever it takes in order to maintain the festival’s stellar reputation in the film community. As Cooper states, “Our industry is at a crossroads: Innovative technology and global accessibility are making filmmaking wildly creative while, at the same time, traditional funding and distribution models are being challenged. Never has our festival been more relevant. I am honored to accept this position and ready to get to work on shaping the festival of the future.”

Cooper has a long history at the Sundance Institute, and has helped the festival to become the world-renowned event that it is today. Since 1989, Cooper has taken numerous steps to further the festival’s reach, including helping to create a content-rich Website that allows for a virtual festival experience for all, and forging important relationships with iTunes, Netflix and Xbox 360 to further the distribution of films. It sounds like Cooper was the perfect choice for the job, but don’t take our word for it; just ask Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford, who called Cooper the “natural choice of succession to lead the festival into the 21st century.”