Sundance: Hailee Steinfeld, Brie Larson, Next Gen of Actors Celebrated

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From left: Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch

Directors Alex Gibney and Edgar Wright, Jay Duplass, and 'Transparent's' Jill Soloway also joined The Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Foreign Press Association to toast 10 up-and-comers.

The Hollywood Reporter and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted an intimate Sundance event at the Sky Lounge Friday night to celebrate the beginning of the indie film fest and THR's Next Gen list of rising talent.

Many of THR's Next Gen Sundance honorees — including Tye Sheridan, Bel Powley, Olivia Cooke, Gail Bean, Thomas Mann and Tony Revolori — attended the celebration and spent time chatting in the center of the packed room among industry executives and Sundance veterans.

"Independent film allows you to be more of an artist," said Sheridan, who is at Sundance with three films: Entertainment, Stanford Prison Experiment and Last Days in the Desert.

"For me, the best thing about being in independent film is how collaborative it is," said Powley, who stars in Diary of a Teenage Girl and is at Sundance for the first time.

A Sundance veteran, Jay Duplass, who, along with his brother, Mark Duplass, just signed a four-picture deal with Netflix, has come a long way from his first Sundance 12 years ago.

"It's a very special place for us," he said of the fest. "The spirit of making movies and loving movies and watching movies is very alive."

The Transparent actor revealed that at his very first Sundance, he and his brother could not get into any parties. "So Mark and I decided to impersonate other filmmakers that kind of look like us to get into the parties — and it still didn't work."

Also at the event, presented by American Airlines and hosted by Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group's chief creative officer Janice Min and HFPA president Theo Kingma, were actors Emile Hirsch, Hailee Steinfeld and Evan Jogia; Transparent creator Jill Soloway; and Sundance jury member Edgar Wright.

Filmmaker Alex Gibney, who is at the festival with his new doc Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, spoke on his love for independent film: "I love the diversity of it."

When asked what he would like viewers to think about after seeing his new film, he said, "Obviously, I hope they think about scientology. But also I hope they think about the power a belief system can have over all of us."

Brie Larson, in her third year at the fest, also joined in on the festivities, chatting with others about her love of the festival.

"I believe in it because the only reason you do an independent film is because you love it," she told THR. "For the most part, you're doing it with darkness in front of you — you never know if it will come out or if anyone will see it. And then you come here, and it's just an intense celebration," she said.

She added: "I never went to summer camp. This is my camp."