‘Forty-Year-Old Version’ director Radha Blank receives Sundance Institute’s 2020 Vanguard Award

Cortney Wills
·2 min read

Blank wrote, starred in, and directed the film, co-produced by Lena Waithe

Radha Blank already made history when she won the Directing Award at Sundance Film Festival with her debut film, The Forty-Year-Old Version and now she’s bringing home another major honor.

Blank will be honored with the Sundance Institute’s 2020 Vanguard Award, given annually to an artist whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence. The award honors the artistic achievement of Blank’s directorial debut, which was developed at Sundance’s Labs.

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“It’s a thrill to be acknowledged by my Sundance Institute family, who’ve been behind me from the very beginning of the journey for this film,” Blank said in a statement. “They provided support of my vision, development of my voice in the screenwriting and directing labs – where I not only received vital mentorship but also cultivated a fellowship with other filmmakers who, just like the wonderful champions at Sundance, will be a cherished part of my life and career from here until forever. Thanks so much Sundance for seeing me, and lifting me up for my first film. Receiving this award affirms my path as a director, and is one hell of a way to begin my career. Thank you!”

The Institute invites fans and supporters of independent cinema to celebrate with Blank during a special event on Wednesday, Dec. 2, hosted on Sundance Collab, the community platform for creators from around the world. The free celebration will feature Octavia Spencer, who was an advisor to Blank at the Labs, and a conversation between Blank and 2019 Vanguard Award recipient Lulu Wang (The Farewell).

Blank has already received two Gotham Award nominations, the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award and Best Screenplay for the project that was acquired by Netflix. She was also named one of the 10 Directors to Watch in 2020 by Variety.

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“Radha’s singular vision, unique voice, and comedic tone were immediately captivating,” Sundance Feature Film Program founding director Michelle Satter said in a statement.

“We were proud to offer Rahda the time and space to grow her skills as a writer, director and actor at our Labs. She developed the script with the support of enthusiastic advisors and her creative process was as gratifying to watch as getting to see the premiere at the most recent Sundance Film Festival. We are very excited to celebrate Radha on Dec. 2, and honor her visionary talent with our 2020 Vanguard Award.”

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