Last night, the Sundance Institute kicked off the 40th annual Sundance Film Festival with Opening Night Gala: Celebrating 40 Years Presented by Chase Sapphire, held at the DeJoria Center in Utah. The annual event honored inspiring and breakout storytellers whose journeys have been connected to Sundance. The event raised funds to enable Sundance Institute’s year-round support for independent artists through labs, grants, and public programming that nurture artists globally.
Sundance Opening Night Gala
Christopher Nolan received the inaugural Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award, which recognizes an artist’s unwavering dedication and notable contributions to the field of independent film. Oppenheimer star Robert Downey Jr. presented Nolan with the award.
Kristen Stewart received the Visionary Award in recognition of her profound work as an actor that exemplifies the bold, risk-taking storytelling that Sundance has championed for many years. This year Stewart stars in two films at the festival, Love Me and Love Lies Bleeding. Jesse Eisenberg, who previously co-starred with Stewart in the Sundance film Adventureland, presented Stewart with the award.
The annual Vanguard Awards presented by Acura honor artists whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence in both nonfiction and fiction. Celine Song, director and writer of Past Lives, received the Vanguard Award for Fiction, presented to her by producer Christine Vachon. Maite Alberdi, director of The Eternal Memory, received the Vanguard Award for Nonfiction, presented to her by Jodie Foster.
Pat Mitchell, former Sundance Institute Board Chair and trustee, received the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy in recognition of her exemplary commitment to the Institute’s support and to philanthropy for social impact. Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson presented Mitchell with the award.