You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Fete Honors Roger Ebert and Ryan Coogler

Chaz Ebert accepts award for late husband; Kerry Washington honors director Coogler

Sundance Institute recognized the power of the independent film community when it honored the memory of longtime supporter Roger Ebert and up-and-coming filmmaker Ryan Coogler at its annual Celebrate Sundance Institute: Los Angeles Benefit on June 5 at Hollywood’s Lot studios.

“At Sundance, we really believe that independent voices enrich the culture and open our minds to perspectives that we may not immediately recognize,” said the Institute’s Keri Putnam. “The idea of stories that are told by people who aren’t in the mainstream of society and are coming from different perspectives and different angles and different communities, where would we be without them?”

Robert Redford honored Ebert, who had championed the Institute’s annual film festival since its early days, by bestowing the late critic’s wife, Chaz Ebert, with the Vanguard Leadership Award. Sundance has also started the Roger Ebert Scholarship Fund to support new film critics.

“Roger had that skill where he talked to the audience of the people,” Redford said. “He was not elitest … and he did it with great skill and generosity.”

Popular on Variety

Redford also talked about Ebert’s professionalism when it came to his reviews, saying that “in terms of my personal career, he was very much his own guy. In other words, just because we knew each other doesn’t mean I was going to get any favors.”

A film Ebert did appreciate was Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station,” which recounted the death of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old who was killed in Oakland on New Year’s Day 2009. Kerry Washington presented the helmer with the Sundance Institute Vanguard Award.

“This was a story that was very important to me and to my community,” said Coogler, who was raised in Oakland.

Since last year’s Vanguard Award went to Benh Zeitlin, who directed the Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Coogler was asked if he thinks lightning will strike twice?

“I really don’t try to focus on awards or anything like that,” Coogler said laughing. “The biggest thing to me was to get the story told. And all the things that come with it are the biggest surprise to me as they are to anybody.”

More Film

  • Richard Jewell

    Box Office: Clint Eastwood Suffers Worst Opening in Four Decades With 'Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, Warner Bros.’ drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters. It’s a [...]

  • (from left) Tom (Henry Golding) and

    Emilia Clarke's 'Last Christmas' Crosses $100 Million at Global Box Office

    Universal’s “Last Christmas,” a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, surpassed $100 million in global ticket sales. The milestone is a win for original fare, one that is especially impressive considering the movie was skewered by critics for its wacky twist ending. After six weeks in theaters, “Last Christmas” has earned $34.4 million [...]

  • DSCF0855.RAF

    'Jumanji 2' Rules Overseas Box Office With $85 Million

    Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” powered international box office charts, collecting $85 million from 34 markets over the weekend. The action-packed sequel kicked off in North America with $60 million for a global start of $145 million. “Jumanji: The Next Level” debuted in a handful of foreign territories last weekend, bringing box office receipts to [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Disney Plus Signs Exclusive Distribution Deal With Canal Plus in France

    Ahead of its launch in France on March 31, 2020, Disney Plus has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Canal Plus Group, the country’s leading pay-TV company. The deal, which was first reported in the French newspaper Les Echos and confirmed by Canal Plus Group CEO Maxime Saada on his Twitter account, marks a new [...]

  • French movie actress Anna Karina smiles

    Anna Karina, French New Wave Star and Jean-Luc Godard Collaborator, Dies at 79

    French New Wave star Anna Karina, who served as a muse for Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in eight of his films, has died. She was 79. France’s culture minister, Franck Reister, announced her death in a tweet, as did her agent, Laurent Balandras, who attributed the cause as cancer. “Her gaze was the gaze of [...]

  • Frozen 2

    'Frozen 2' Sets Record as Disney's Sixth Movie to Hit $1 Billion in 2019

    “Frozen 2” is the sixth Disney movie this year to hit $1 billion globally, strengthening the studio’s sheer dominance over the box office. Those ticket sales extend the benchmark Disney set over summer, with five other films — “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and “Captain Marvel” — joining the billion-dollar club [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content