Alejandro G. Inarritu Honored with Vanguard Award at Sundance Institute Celebration

After picking up three Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, Alejandro G. Inarritu isn’t done collecting honors. The “Birdman” director was presented with the Vanguard Leadership Award at the fifth Sundance Institute Celebration benefit hosted by Acura and held at 3 Labs in Los Angeles.

“I don’t deserve an award for what I do with joy and freely, but I thank you for it,” said Inarritu.

Also being honored with the Vanguard Award was Marielle Heller, writer-director of “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” which premiered to raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner and starring Kristen Wiig, “Diary” was developed at Sundance’s director and screenwriter labs. “For me, the Sundance Labs were a totally transformative experience,” Heller said in her speech. “It’s where I became a director.”

Heller was presented her award by comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia, who joked, “When Sundance Institute asked me to present this award, I said, ‘Come on! You should get Kristen Wiig.’ They said, ‘We tried.’”

Inarritu’s award was presented by “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, a Sundance Institute board member who she said “believes in the values of independence and innovation that Sundance embraces and as a presenter of an award to a filmmaker who exemplifies those values in his body of work.”

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Inarritu noted the significance of the Vanguard Award, saying, “It’s Sundance that’s the real vanguard, keeping stories that protect the integrity of the world of sonic images. We are all the vanguard. We have to protect the importance of culture. Art is created because the world is not perfect.”

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