Sundance will honor filmmaker Ryan Coogler during Opening Night celebration￼
Film Festival opens with A Taste of Sundance
Sundance Institute will honor filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who has crafted big-budget blockbusters “Creed,” “Black Panther” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s inaugural edition of Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance on Jan. 19 in Park City.
The night, which launches the festival, is designed to honor filmmakers and other storytellers such as Coogler, who have ties to Sundance, as well as raise money and awareness for the institute, according to a press release.
The proceeds will go to Sundance Institute’s year-round efforts that support independent voices from around the world through programming grants and other initiatives, the report said.
Writer, director and producer Coogler, whose award-winning “Fruitvale Station,” was developed while he was a Sundance 2012 Screenwriters Lab Fellow, will receive the first Sundance Institute | Variety Visionary Award, which recognizes Sundance Institute alumni who have established careers that showcase visionary work with a commitment to impactful storytelling, the release said.
“Fruitvale Station,” which marked Cooglers directorial debut at the festival in 2013, won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film, two of the Sundance Film Festival’s top honors.
In addition, Coogler, whose works continue to entertain and impact audiences through cultural conversation, served as an Advisor for the 2013 Screenwriters Intensive and an artist trustee.
Coogler won three Academy Awards for his 2018 film “Black Panther,” based on the Marvel superhero, which became the most successful domestic release of the year.
He also co-wrote and directed the highly anticipated sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which is now in theaters.
Coogler founded Proximity Media last year with his wife, Zinzi Coogler, and Sev Ohanian. The company has produced “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the Academy Award-winning “Judas And The Black Messiah,” and the upcoming “Creed III,” “Ironheart” and “Underrated.”
Being recognized with the Variety Visionary Award is the culmination of a decade of hard work, Coogler said in a statement.
“Ten years ago, I was filled with an immense sense of gratitude when I was selected by Michelle Satter and her staff for the Screenwriting Lab of 2012,” he said. “My experience there provided me with momentum that has propelled me forward through a decade of professional work. It is with an even deeper sense of gratitude that I accept this honor. The Institute has been a constant source of support, resources, and access to so many incredible filmmakers, and I pray that it will continue to thrive for the sake of us who know the depths of its effects personally and for the fledgling storytellers that the Institute is destined to support in the future.”
In addition to honoring Coogler with the Variety Visionary Award, Sundance will also present its annual Vanguard Awards during the Jan. 19 event.
The 2023 recipient for nonfiction work is W. Kamau Bell, comedian, director and executive producer of the Showtime documentary, “We Need to Talk About Cosby,” and the award for fiction will be presented to writer and director Nikyatu Jusu, whose screenwriting and directorial debut, “Nanny,” became the first horror film to win the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, in 2022, according to the release.
Vanguard Awards recognize storytelling and creative independence in nonfiction and fiction filmmaking. Past honorees include Coogler, Siân Heder, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Radha Blank, Lulu Wang, Dee Rees, Damien Chazelle, Marielle Heller, Benh Zeitlin and Boots Riley. Additional honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.
Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute chief executive officer, said Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance is a “great opportunity to champion the storytellers we support and contribute to sustaining Sundance Institute grants, mentorships and other critical resources that enable artists to bring their stories to life.”
“We look forward to gathering together again in Park City to shine a light on the vision, originality and independent spirit of artists whose careers we have supported,” she said. “The opportunity to recognize Ryan with the Visionary Award and his contributions to the industry and Institute for over a decade is a special moment for us. We are equally honored to be able to present both Nikyatu and Kamau with the Vanguard Awards.”
This year’s concerts will also feature a guest, B. Murphy, who was part of The Platters in the 1970s.
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