June 23, 2024

UPDATED: Former Sundance Institute Board Chair and trustee Pat Mitchell, the first woman president of CNN Productions and PBS, has joined the list of honorees for the Sundance Gala that includes Christopher Nolan, Celine Song and Maite Alberdi. Mitchell will receive the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy for her commitment to the Institute’s support and to philanthropy for social impact.

The upcoming Opening Night Gala: Celebrating 40 Years Presented by Chase Sapphire will be held on Jan. 18 at the DeJoria Center in Kamas, Utah.

“Beyond being a stalwart champion of the role of media and storytelling as an agent for social change, Pat is a fierce advocate for gender and racial equality, and in all her diverse roles and responsibilities — as a journalist, documentary producer, and media executive — has supported the stories and ideas that move us forward toward a more equitable future. Pat’s career and commitments of her time and resources epitomize what it means to be a leader for positive change,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO.

Nolan will be honored at the event with the inaugural Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award; his acclaimed drama “Memento” screened at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, up-and-coming filmmakers Song and Alberdi, who both had films premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, will be given the annual Vanguard Award Presented by Acura. Song directed the romance/drama “Past Lives” while Alberdi directed the documentary/thriller “The Eternal Memory.”

Nolan said of the honor, “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.”

Song commented on the Vanguard honor: “I am incredibly honored to receive this award — it really means the world to me,” she said. “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.”

Alberdi said, “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.”

She continued, “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.”

Vicente made a statement on the upcoming gala and honorees: “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.”

The annual gala raises money to fuel Sundance’s efforts to support independent filmmaking; their year-round initiatives include labs, grants and public programming to help foster the careers of artists around the world.

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival will take place in person in Park City and Salt Lake City from Jan. 18-28, and online from Jan. 25-28.

Find more information on Sundance’s website here.

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