Winner, Individual, Interactive 2022

Shari Frilot

Visionary Award

For over 20 years Shari Frilot has been a curator and a programmer of emerging media, film, and art through the Sundance Institute and external programming platforms–and under her stewardship literally thousands of artists have been able to develop their projects, showcase their stories, and find investment, distribution, and audiences.


As the Chief Curator of the New Frontier program and Senior Programmer at Sundance, Frilot helped catalyze interactive media, social media forms of story, and other emerging forms in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, blended reality, alternate reality experiences, and various genre-bending and form-shifting video games. In 2007, Shari saw the first wave of participatory, co-creative, and socially interactive storytelling and story-making through the emerging technology of that time. A key cultivator of innovative forms, she immediately worked her magic to convince Sundance Film Festival decision-makers to dedicate a section of the program to artists on this new frontier of storytelling culture.


Frilot is a visionary. She sees things coming into existence by staying true to her philosophy of “follow the artist.” She has a keen eye, scans the field constantly, sees what innovations are cutting the edge of what is possible in storytelling, and helps bring them to light.


Eschewing commercial advantages in her own career, she has been doggedly dedicated to indie artists needing buffer space to keep industry pressures at bay, long enough for them to find meaning in the stories made in the medium, and the craftsmanship to provide excellence in form. The credibility through the platform and laurels of Sundance legitimized artists and creative technologists at a tender and vulnerable point in the dawn of a medium, and resulted in investment and resources they would not have otherwise been given. Creators from Ava DuVernay and Joseph Gordon Levitt to top-level executives at Unity, Disney, Sony, Lego, Fox, and Apple, to philanthropists and NGOs such as the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the United Nations have all experienced her influence.


Frilot is a BIPOC queer woman who has led a movement in storytelling and story innovation through her own creativity and tenacity. She has shown us the best of the stories that matter in interactive media on subjects of refugees, LGBTQIA rights, climate change, war, use of force protocol, ethics in technology, racial identity and systemic oppression, and more. Her own story breaks the stereotypes that BIPOC and marginalized people are always “behind,” when they are consistently at the beginning. And she is not done.

For her incredible catalog of excellence in building the industry of interactive media and art, and for ongoing work in reimagining the future of storytelling, Shari Frilot receives the Peabody Visionary Award.