Celine Song and Maite Alberdi To Receive Annual Vanguard Awards Presented by Acura
Tables and Tickets Available Now: Annual Event Recognizes Outstanding Independent Storytellers and Raises Funds to Support Nonprofit’s Year-Round Programs
November 1, 2023, Park City, UT — The nonprofit Sundance Institute today unveiled details for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s fundraiser, Opening Night Gala: Celebrating 40 Years Presented by Chase Sapphire® which will take place on January 18, 2024 at the DeJoria Center in Utah. Kicking off the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the evening will honor trailblazing and breakout storytellers, as well as celebrate 40 years of Sundance’s commitment to elevating independent storytelling. Christopher Nolan will be honored with the first-ever Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award. Celine Song and Maite Alberdi — both of whom premiered films Past Lives and The Eternal Memory, respectively, at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival — will each receive the annual Vanguard Award Presented by Acura.
The annual opening night gala enables the nonprofit to raise critical funds to support independent artists year-round through labs, grants, and public programming that nurture artists globally. The 2024 event is made possible with the generous support of Chase Sapphire. The upcoming Sundance Film Festival will take place January 18–28, 2024 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as online from January 25–28.
“As we step into the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, it is a distinct honor to recognize Christopher Nolan, a prodigious artist whose singular talent and remarkable body of work have made him one of the most respected filmmakers of our time. We are looking forward to spotlighting the unique voices of both Celine and Maite, storytellers we have been supporting and deeply believe in. All three of these storytellers represent Sundance’s values,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO. “From the Festival to our year-round programs, it is artists that have and always will be at the very core of what we do. We look forward to our guests joining us at the Opening Night Gala and, in turn, enabling us to continue championing independent storytellers and their art that adds great value to our culture.”
For the past 40 years, the Sundance Film Festival has been a foothold for independent filmmaking, acting as a platform not just for discovering unique voices, but also launching and transforming careers. Recognizing an artist’s unwavering dedication and notable contributions to the field of independent film, the inaugural Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award will be presented to an individual who exemplifies this legacy: Christopher Nolan. He was celebrated by Sundance two decades ago when his breakthrough film, Memento, screened to great acclaim at the Festival. Memento’s 2001 Sundance debut garnered that year’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and was ultimately nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Memento catapulted Nolan’s career, propelling him from independent films to major blockbusters, including The Dark Knight trilogy and this year’s triumph, Oppenheimer. One of the most acclaimed directors of our time, Christopher Nolan boldly pushes the parameters of cinematic storytelling.
“Presenting Memento at the Sundance Film Festival marked a pivotal moment in my career, this award is a full circle moment and testament to the extraordinary influence of independent filmmaking,” said Christopher Nolan.
The annual Vanguard Awards, presented by Acura, honor artists whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence in both nonfiction and fiction. The Vanguard Award for Fiction will be presented to Celine Song, director and writer of Past Lives, and the Vanguard Award for Nonfiction will go to Maite Alberdi, director of The Eternal Memory. Previous honorees include: W. Kamau Bell, Nikyatu Jusu, Ryan Coogler, Siân Heder, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Radha Blank, Lulu Wang, Dee Rees, Damien Chazelle, Marielle Heller, Benh Zeitlin, Boots Riley, and many more.
Celine Song is a playwright best known for Endlings and is one of the most exciting new voices in film. Her debut feature, Past Lives, which she wrote and directed, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and was released by A24, opening to unanimous praise. Song previously participated as a member of the 2018 cohort for the Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross.
“I am incredibly honored to receive this award — it really means the world to me,” said Celine Song. “Sundance is where I showed my very first film for the very first time, and I will never forget the experience — pacing around the green room at the Eccles, waiting to introduce the film to the world, meeting the audience afterward, being there together with everyone who made the movie with me. Sundance is the place that launched my career as a filmmaker: it’s a home for Past Lives — and a home for me — in the deepest way. Thank you so much.”
Maite Alberdi was the first Chilean woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for The Mole Agent (2021), which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Her unique style, deft approach and intimate portrayal of small worlds has made her one of the most celebrated and important voices in documentary film today. Alberdi has a long history with Sundance: she received a Sundance Documentary Film Grant in 2013 and 2016, and served on the jury for the 2019 Festival in the World Documentary Competition category. Most recently, her film The Eternal Memory premiered at the 2023 Festival and received the World Cinema Documentary Jury Prize.
“It’s an absolute honor to receive the Vanguard Award. Sundance was the gateway to North American audiences for me and has been hugely supportive of my last two films,” said Maite Alberdi. “I am enormously grateful that the narrative avant-garde is also understood as applying to documentaries and that filmmaking boundaries are continuing to expand. The Eternal Memory is a film that has taught me so much about the infinite ways of telling, looking at and working with real-life stories and I am proud and humbled to be among such an extraordinary group of filmmakers who have been given this recognition including Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, Siân Heder, Radha Blank, Lulu Wang, and Nikyatu Jusu — amongst others whose work I greatly admire.”
For more information about tables and tickets, please visit festival.sundance.org/opening-night-gala or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the nonprofit, Sundance Institute, is the pre-eminent gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide. The Festival has introduced some of the most groundbreaking films and episodic works of the past three decades, including Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Fair Play, A Thousand and One, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Rye Lane, Navalny, Fire of Love, Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Minari, Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, O.J.: Made in America, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Top of the Lake, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs, and sex, lies, and videotape. The program consists of fiction and nonfiction features and short films, series and episodic content, innovative storytelling, and performances, as well as conversations, and other events. The Festival takes place in-person in Utah, as well as online, connecting audiences to bold new artists and films. The 2024 Festival will be held January 18-28, 2024. Be a part of the Festival at Sundance Film Festival and follow the Festival at Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube.
The Festival is a program of the nonprofit Sundance Institute. To date 2024 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire®, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Audible, DIRECTV, Omnicom Group, Ketel One Vodka, Shutterstock, United Airlines; Sustaining Sponsors – Canon U.S.A., Inc., Cotopaxi, DoorDash, Dropbox, World of Hyatt®, IMDb, MACRO, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, Variety, Vulture. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year round programs for independent artists. Please visit festival.sundance.org for more.
As a champion and curator of independent stories, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings a global cohort of working artists together to learn from Sundance Advisors and connect with each other in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Through the Sundance Institute artist programs, we have supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Big Sick, Bottle Rocket, Boys Don’t Cry, Boys State, Call Me By Your Name, Clemency, CODA, Drunktown’s Finest, The Farewell, Fire of Love, Flee, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Fruitvale Station, Get Out, Half Nelson, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hereditary, Honeyland, The Infiltrators, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Woods, Love & Basketball, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Mudbound, Nanny, Navalny, O.J.: Made in America, One Child Nation, Pariah, Raising Victor Vargas, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, RBG, Sin Nombre, Sorry to Bother You, The Souvenir, Strong Island, Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Swiss Army Man, Sydney, A Thousand and One, Top of the Lake, Walking and Talking, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and Zola. Through year-round artist programs, the Institute also nurtured the early careers of artists such Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Gregg Araki, Darren Aronofsky, Lisa Cholodenko, Ryan Coogler, Nia DaCosta, The Daniels, David Gordon Green, Miranda July, James Mangold, John Cameron Mitchell, Kimberly Peirce, Boots Riley, Ira Sachs, Quentin Tarantino, Taika Waititi, Lulu Wang, and Chloé Zhao. Support Sundance Institute in our commitment to uplifting bold artists and powerful storytelling globally by making a donation at sundance.org/donate. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube.
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