Sundance is adding some stars to opening night. The festival’s kick-off gala, presented by Chase Sapphire, has confirmed Robert Downey Jr., Jesse Eisenberg, Jodie Foster and Christine Vachon to hit the podium and honor their collaborators at the event, which will be held at the DeJoria Center on Jan. 18.
Oppenheimer star Downey will offer a tribute to his director, Christopher Nolan, as he receives the inaugural Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award for an acclaimed career and contributions to independent cinema. Eisenberg will present to former co-star and friend Kristen Stewart who will take home a Visionary Award “for her work as an uncompromising artist, contributions to the field of independent film and her long history with the Sundance Film Festival,” that has included 10 films in the festival and two more this year.
Foster will touch down in Utah to present documentary filmmaker Maite Alberdi (The Eternal Memory) with a Vanguard Award for nonfiction presented by Acura. Alberdi is being singled out for work that highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence in nonfiction. Past Lives filmmaker Celine Song, who will be honored with a Vanguard Award for fiction presented by Acura, will be feted by veteran producer Christine Vachon.
Lastly, Mary Robinson, first woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will present journalist and producer Pat Mitchell with the Vanguard Award for philanthropy.
The opening night gala helps the Sundance Institute raise funds to support independent artists year-round through labs, grants and public programming. In addition to Chase Sapphire, additional support is provided by George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, Acura and Google TV. The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 18–28, in Park City and Salt Lake City, as well as online from Jan. 25–28.