Benh Zeitlin and George Gund to be Honored at ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ Los Angeles Benefit

Los Angeles, CA — Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin and philanthropist George Gund will be the first-ever recipients of the Sundance Institute Vanguard Awards, presented by Tiffany & Co. The awards will be given at the second annual ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ benefit, June 6 in Los Angeles.

The Vanguard Awards were founded last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program  and its founding director, Michelle Satter. The awards celebrate creative independence and visionary leadership.

Benh Zeitlin will be honored with the Vanguard Award presented by Tiffany & Co. for his directorial debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild, which participated in multiple artist programs at Sundance Institute before winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The award will be presented to Zeitlin by Paula Patton (Precious, 2009 Sundance Film Festival) and comes with a cash grant and mentorship from industry professionals and Feature Film Program staff.

George Gund will receive the Vanguard Leadership Award for his advocacy of independent cinema. Gund is a beloved Sundance Institute Trustee who has supported independent film artists from around the world. The award will be presented to Gund by fellow Sundance Institute Trustee Christine Lahti.

Also at the benefit, Sundance Institute will spotlight some of the talented artists it has supported since its founding in 1981 by Robert Redford by featuring an Institute alumni artist at each table to share their stories and experiences with guests. Artists are Fenton Bailey, Lake Bell, Lisa Cholodenko, Mark Duplass, Ava DuVernay, Scott Frank, Cody Horn, Dan Janvey, Rory Kennedy, Christine Lahti, Billy Luther, Danny Masterson, Thomas Newman, Julia Ormond, Paula Patton, Josh Penn, Bijou Phillips, Aubrey Plaza, Heather Rae, Amy Redford, Jason Ritter, Gina Rodriguez and Gingger Shankar.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “The strength of today’s independent film community is a testament to the visionary work of both artists and leaders who have paved the way for those to follow. We look forward to joining with our artists and supporters to celebrate Benh, George and the many others who have advanced the legacy of independent film over the past three decades.”

Sundance Institute relies on the generosity of donors who share a commitment to nurturing new artists, supporting unique and diverse creative voices, and furthering the reach of independent feature and documentary films around the world. The benefit will raise crucial funds to offset the non-profit Institute’s year-round programs for artists, including Labs, grants and the Sundance Film Festival.

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Benh Zeitlin is a filmmaker, composer, animator, and founding member of the independent film company, Court 13. His award-winning shorts include Egg, Origins of Electricity, I Get Wet, and Glory at Sea. Benh’s first feature film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, participated in multiple artist programs at Sundance Institute, including the Directors Lab, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be released in the U.S. by Fox Searchlight Pictures on June 27. Benh lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a pack of wild animals.

Sundance Institute trustee, George Gund III, has long been a devoted champion of American independent filmmaking. Since the 1970s he has also imported and distributed Eastern European films. A native of Cleveland and a long-time resident of San Francisco, he serves as chair of the San Francisco Film Society and as a trustee of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. In addition, Mr. Gund is a founder of the Cleveland Cinematique, a board member of the Cleveland Film Festival, and a member of the Committee on Film at New York’s MoMA.

Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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