Every place setting at last night’s Sundance Institute Celebration had a shot glass containing a thimble full of whiskey. The booze, we found out later, was for toasting Sundance Executive Director Keri Putnam’s fifth year anniversary (screw champagne – is this a thing? – whiskey – fine idea). Selma Director Ava DuVernay didn’t get the memo…
“I’ve never had a drink my entire life,” DuVernay began before handing Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu a Vanguard Leadership Award. “Yet tonight when I sat down there was this little glass and I thought it was oil and I poured it on my salad and thought—this is the best salad ever!”
“I am so happy that Ava has started to drink!” Iñárritu joked before accepting his latest award and giving an impassioned speech about the art of film. The last time I saw the director, he was getting his name engraved on his Academy Awards at the Governors Ball.
Comedian/Filmmaker Mike Birbiglia gave his neighbor filmmaker Marielle Heller a Vanguard Award as well. “When you say an artist is nice, that usually means not good. That is not true of Marielle.” Heller’s feature The Diary of a Teenage Girl debuted at Sundance and hits theatres in August.
Sally Field, Greta Gerwig, Ron Livingston, Brit Marling, and Norman Lear were among the crowd at 3Labs.