The 2024 Sundance Film Festival will honor filmmakers Christopher Nolan, Maite Alberdi and Celine Song with awards at its annual opening gala and fundraising gala, the festival announced Nov. 1.
The fundraiser will take place on January 18, 2024, on the opening night of next year’s Sundance Festival, which this year celebrates the film festival’s 40th anniversary. “Oppenheimer” director Nolan will receive a new award from Sundance called the Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award. Nolan’s 2001 “Memento” premiered at Sundance this year. Meanwhile, Song and Alberdi will each receive the annual Vanguard Award presented by Acura. Their respective films, “Past Lives” and “The Eternal Memory,” each premiered at Sundance in 2023. Song receives the prize for fiction and Alberdi for non-fiction.
“As we begin the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, it is a special honor to recognize Christopher Nolan, an extraordinary artist whose unique talent and remarkable body of work have made him one of the most respected filmmakers of our time. We look forward to highlighting the unique voices of Celine and Maite, storytellers we have supported and deeply believe in. All three of these storytellers represent Sundance’s values,” said Joana Vicente, CEO of the Sundance Institute. “From the festival to our year-round programming, it is the artists who are and always will be at the center of our work. We look forward to our guests joining us for the opening gala, which will in turn enable us to continue to champion independent storytellers and their art, which adds great value to our culture.”
The inaugural Trailblazer Award is given to someone who demonstrates “an artist’s unwavering commitment and notable contributions to the field of independent film.”
“Presenting ‘Memento’ at the Sundance Film Festival was a pivotal moment in my career. This award comes full circle and is a testament to the extraordinary impact of independent filmmaking,” Nolan said in a statement.
The Vanguard Award honors artists whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence in both nonfiction and fiction. Previous winners have included W. Kamau Bell, Nikyatu Jusu, Ryan Coogler, Siân Heder, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Radha Blank, Lulu Wang, Dee Rees, Damien Chazelle, Marielle Heller, Benh Zeitlin and Boots Riley.
“I am incredibly honored to receive this award – it really means a lot to me,” said Song. “At Sundance I screened my very first film for the very first time, and I will never forget that experience – pacing in the green room at the Eccles, waiting to introduce the film to the world, then meeting the audience and there together to be with everyone who made the film with me. Sundance is where my filmmaking career began: It is, in the deepest sense, a home for Past Lives — and a home for me. Thank you.”
“It is an absolute honor to receive the Vanguard Award. “Sundance was my gateway to North American audiences and provided tremendous support for my last two films,” said Alberdi. “I am enormously grateful that the narrative avant-garde is also understood in documentary films and that the boundaries of filmmaking continue to expand. The Eternal Memory is a film that taught me so much about the infinite possibilities of telling, viewing and working with real stories, and I am proud and humbled to be among such an extraordinary group of filmmakers who have been able to do so Recognition, including Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, Siân Heder, Radha Blank, Lulu Wang and Nikyatu Jusu – among others whose work I greatly admire.”
Song also participated in a cohort for the Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat in Ucross in 2018. And Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory” won the World Cinema Documentary Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance. She also received a Sundance Documentary Film Grant in 2013 and 2016 and served on the 2019 festival jury in the World Documentary Competition category.
The annual opening gala allows the nonprofit to raise critical funds to support independent artists year-round through labs, grants, and public programs that support artists worldwide. The upcoming Sundance Film Festival will take place January 18-28, 2024 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, and online January 25-28.