|Occupation||President and director of Film Forum|
|Alma mater||Smith College|
Karen Cooper has served as director of Film Forum since 1972, presiding over the growth of the nonprofit Manhattan movie house from a 50-seat screening room to its present-day incarnation: a three-screen cinema, located in lower Manhattan. Today considered one of America's leading venues for new American independent and foreign art house features, Cooper oversees programming and selects premieres for Film Forum alongside associate Mike Maggiore. The theater is also renowned for its international and domestic repertory programming, curated by Bruce Goldstein.
Under Cooper, Film Forum introduced the early films of New German Cinema filmmakers Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, and Werner Herzog in the 1970s. The 1980s saw Cooper bringing such documentaries as The Atomic Cafe and Henry Hampton's Eyes on the Prize to the theater's screens. In the pursuing decades, various films and documentaries have been presented by Cooper to Film Forum and New York audiences at large, by such filmmakers as Allison Anders, Chris Marker, Albert Maysles, Bruce Weber, and Asghar Farhadi. Most recently, Film Forum premiered Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann and Raoul Peck's I Am Not Your Negro, both of which were nominated at the 89th Academy Awards.
In addition to her work at Film Forum, Cooper has served as juror at film festivals worldwide, including those in Naples, Morelia (Mexico), Oberhausen, Leipzeg, Vancouver, Sarajevo, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. She has also served on funding panels for the National Endowment on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the NYS Council on the Arts. She is the recipient of Brandeis University's Citation for Film, the New York Film Critics Special Award for Programming, New York Women in Film's MUSE Award and the Municipal Art Society's Certificate of Merit. In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Cooper with Karen Cooper Carte Blanche: 40 Years of Documentary Premieres at Film Forum.
A graduate of Smith College, Cooper received an Honorary Doctorate from the American Film Institute in 1995. She lives in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood with her husband, animator George Griffin. They have one daughter, painter and writer Nora Griffin (b. 1982).
- Anderson, Melissa (2 February 2010). "Film Forum's Karen Cooper on the Secret to Her Success". Village Voice. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Hoberman, J. (30 March 2010). "Blackbook: Film Forum". Departures. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (18 July 1982). "She Champions the Cause of Independent Film". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Grimes, William (25 August 1992). "Derring-Do on the Screen and Off Brings Success for Film Forum". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "Karen Cooper Carte Blanche: 40 Years of Documentary Premieres at Film Forum". MoMA. 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "Karen Cooper Carte Blanche: 40 Years of Documentary Premieres at Film Forum" (PDF). Film Forum. 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2017.