Every year, Sundance Institute bestows the Vanguard Award upon an artist who embodies the innovation, originality, and independent spirit upon which the Institute was founded in 1981.

This year, we invite you to be part of the celebration when visionary Radha Blank, the writer-director-actor of the award-winning film THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION, will join such esteemed past honorees as Ryan Coogler, Marielle Heller, and Boots Riley as the recipient of the 2020 Vanguard Award presented by Acura.

Join us as last year’s Vanguard honoree, award-winning writer/director Lulu Wang (THE FAREWELL), and Radha engage in a candid conversation where they'll reflect on their creative journey and insights gleaned along the way. The celebration concludes with the presentation of the award, including an appearance by Octavia Spencer, one of Radha's creative advisors at the Sundance Institute's Directors Lab.

The Forty-Year-Old Version is available to stream on Netflix.  

“A very sharp, funny and poignant comedy.” — Los Angeles Times

"Incisive and Vibrant." — The New Yorker

"This is the rarest of films: Funny, Wry, Incisive, Sexy and Sincere." — Chicago Tribune

"A Beautiful Achievement." — The Hollywood Reporter  

We look forward to welcoming you to our celebration on December 2. 

Writer / Director
Radha Blank, a playwright and proud native New Yorker, has written for hit shows Empire and SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT. Her award-winning script for THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION was chosen for the 2017 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Lab. When not writing, Blank performs as RadhaMUSprime, whose brand of hip-hop comedy has sold out shows globally. Variety named her one of “10 directors to watch for 2020.” THE FORTY YEAR OLD VERSION marks Blank's feature film directing debut. more...
Writer/ Director
Lulu Wang is a classical pianist turned filmmaker. Her second feature, THE FAREWELL, starring Awkwafina, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition. She was listed by VARIETY as “Ten Directors To Watch In 2019”. more...
Born in New York City, Julie Dash is a filmmaker, music video and commercial director, author and website creator. Her film studies began in Harlem in 1969, but eventually led her to the American Film Institute and UCLA, where she made The Diary of an African Nun (1977), based on a short story by Alice Walker, which won a student award from the Directors Guild of America. Dash’s critically acclaimed short film Illusions (1982) later won the Jury Prize for Best Film of the Decade awarded by the Black Filmmakers Foundation. more...
One of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, Spencer has become a familiar fixture in both television and the silver screen. Her performance as Minny in the DreamWorks feature film THE HELP won her the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, SAG Award and Broadcast Film Critics’ Choice Award among numerous other accolades. Spencer recently starred in Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning fantasy drama, THE SHAPE OF WATER alongside Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins. Previous film credits include INSTANT FAMILY, A KID LIKE JAKE, HIDDEN FIGURES, ZOOTOPIA, and FRUITVALE STATION. more...

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