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Nov 1, 2023

Christopher Nolan Announced To Receive Inaugural Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award

Christopher Nolan is set to recieve the first of its kind, Trailblazer Award from Sundance in 2024.

Image: Universal/Sue Gordon

The Sundance Institute has unveiled details for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s January 18 opening-night gala that kicks off the festival’s 40th edition. The Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan will be honored with the first Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award, while Celine Song and Maite Alberdi . Both of those filmmakers premiered their respective films Past Lives and The Eternal Memory at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, will both receive the Vanguard Award. The annual opening-night gala raises money for the nonprofit’s labs, grants and public programming. The Sundance Film Festival runs January 18-28 in Park City and Salt Lake City and online from January 25-28.

Sundance said the Trailblazer Award will recognize an artist’s unwavering dedication and notable contributions to the field of independent film. Nolan was celebrated by Sundance two decades ago when his breakthrough film, Memento, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award on its way to an Oscar Original Screenplay nomination. Memento catapulted Nolan’s career from independent films to blockbusters including The Dark Knight trilogy and this year’s Oppenheimer.

The Vanguard Awards 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 Song, who as a playwright she is best known for Endlings. Her debut feature Past Lives, which she wrote and directed, premiered was released by A24.

The Vanguard Award for Nonfiction will go to Alberdi, director of The Eternal Memory. She was the first Chilean woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for The Mole Agent (2021), which premiered at Sundance 2020. Alberdi has a long history with the festival: She received a Sundance Documentary Film Grant in 2013 and 2016 and served on the jury for the 2019 World Documentary Competition.