Sterling G Van Wagenen portrait
  • Professor (Lecturer), Film & Media Arts Department


  • B.A., Philosophy, Brigham Young University


Sterling Van Wagenen was the co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and, in association with Robert Redford, he was the founding executive director of the Sundance Institute. He is a partner in Pearl Farm Entertainment, based in Los Angeles. From 1993 to 1999, Mr. Van Wagenen was Adjunct Professor of Film at Brigham Young University, and manager of the University’s TV Group, and Director of Content for BYU Broadcasting from 2007-2010. From 1999 to 2004, he served as Director of the School of Film and Digital Media at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.


He has served on the media arts panels at both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, twice chairing the Arts and Television Panel at the NEA. He has been a guest lecturer in film at Columbia University, Franklin College, Eckhart College, Franklin and Marshall College, the University of Florida, and Utah Valley University.


Mr. Van Wagenen’s feature film producing credits include the Academy Award winning, The Trip to Bountiful, written by Horton Foote and starring Geraldine Page and John Heard; The Witching of Ben Wagner for the Disney Channel. He collaborated again with writer Horton Foote on Convicts starring Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones.


As a director he has staged productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Richard II. He directed the Emmy award-winning Christmas Snows, Christmas Winds for public television; the independent feature film Alan and Naomi, starring Lukas Haas and Michael Gross; the “Pioneers” segment in the IMAX film The Great American West and parts 2 and 3 of The Work and Glory trilogy: American Zion and A House Divided. He has also worked as a director-in-residence at The New Harmony Writer’s Project.


His documentary work as producer and/or director includes: The Faith of an Observer: Conversations with Hugh Nibley; Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven, co-produced with Robert Redford for The American Experience on PBS; Yellowstone: America’s Eden for PBS; and for the Discovery Channel Secrets of the Pharaohs: A Quest for Ancient DNA, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Unraveling the Mystery, and The Haunted Desert: Archeology and The Dead Sea Scrolls; a documentary on the life of C.S. Lewis, Letting God Have His Way; Ancestors, a ten-part series airing nationally on PBS about Americans searching for their roots; a performance documentary on the storytelling movement in America, The Call of Story; and Small Fortunes: Microcredit and the Future of Poverty, featuring Mohammed Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. The film opened the International Year of Microcredit 2005 at the United Nations, and aired nationally on PBS. Most recently, he co-directed and produced Learning from Light: The Vision of I.M. Pei.