Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to Receive Sundance Institute's Vanguard Leadership Award

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu

The 'Birdman' director will receive the honor at the institute's fifth annual benefit in June.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will be this year's recipient of Sundance Institute's Vanguard Leadership Award.

The Birdman director will receive the honor at the institute's fifth annual benefit on June 2 in Los Angeles. Inarritu will be honored for the "originality and independent spirit" of his films, including 2000's Amores Perros, 2003's 21 Grams, 2006's Babel, 2010's Biutiful and last year's Birdman, which has been a major awards contender this Oscar season.

He became the first Mexican director to be nominated for an Academy Award for best director for Babel. He is also the first Mexican-born director to have won the Prix de la mise en scene, or best director award, at Cannes in 2006. Amores Perros is featured in the Sundance Collection at UCLA, an independent film preservation program established in 1997. He has produced three films that appeared at the Sundance Film Festival: 2005's Nine Lives, 2009's Rudo y Cursi and 2010's Mother & Child.

"The current health and vibrancy of independent film is best reflected in the stories from filmmakers who continue to push and break boundaries," Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said. "Alejandro G. Inarritu is among the most creative and innovative filmmakers working today, and the boldness, humanity and audacity of his films will inspire generations to come."



Added Inarritu: "It comes as a great honor to receive this award from an organization whose mission, spirit and objectives are noble and have a profound effect on many filmmakers around the world."

Inarritu will be the fourth recipient of the award, joining philanthropist and former institute trustee George Gund, journalist and film critic Roger Ebert, and actress and arts advocate Glenn Close. In addition to the Vanguard Leadership Award, the Institute presents the Vanguard Award, which includes a cash grant and mentorship from industry professionals and institute staff, to an emerging artist with creative independence. Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) are past recipients. The 2015 recipient will be announced in the spring.



The Sundance Institute benefit is planned by a host committee: Charmaine Bailey and Sean Bailey; Ava DuVernay; Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn; Christine Lahti and Thomas Schlamme; Lyn Davis Lear and Norman Lear; Nadine Schiff-Rosen and Fred Rosen; and Tom Rothman and Jessica Harper. The evening typically draws high-profile members of the indie film community including institute supporters and artists who have participated in Sundance Institute Labs or the Sundance Film Festival.

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