In 2015, Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was honoured with the Vanguard Leadership Award at the fifth annual Sundance Institute benefit for the originality and independent spirit of his films, including Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010) and Birdman (2014) . He's also been a frequent winner at Cannes Lions, helping Nike win a Grand Prix in 2011 for the classic Write the Future work.
In 2011, he also directed Best Job for P&G. This work, which won Golds in both the Film Craft and Film Lions, was part of the brand's ongoing effort to support the moms of the world, Together with Iñárritu, they created a spot for the London 2012 Olympic Games that honoured the amazing mothers behind Olympic athletes.
Back in 2013, Damien Chazelle showed a short film at Sundance inspired by his experience as a jazz drummer in high school. It ended up winning the short film fiction Jury Award at the festival. At the next edition, he returned with a new full-length version called Whiplash. That film went on to earn Chazelle five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the director collaborated with Nike and W+K to direct Unlimited Future, a touching spot that reminded us all that even the world's greatest sports stars were once babies. The campaign was designed to remind people that sport isn't about who you are but what you become. It earned the brand and director another award: a Bronze Lion at the 2017 edition of Cannes Lions.
Colin Trevorrow truly made his name at Sundance. After the director won a screenplay award at the 2012 festival for Safety Not Guaranteed he was hired to direct the reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise. Jurassic World went on to become one of the highest grossing films of modern times and helped the director build a career.
His association with the franchise meant that he also directed a 2018 campaign for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that tapped into Jurassic Park's success. In it, viewers are reunited with Jeff Goldblum and the iconic T. Rex chase scene, but with a modern twist.
It was the reaction at Sundance to Robert Rodriguez’s $7,000 Spanish-language action film El Mariachi that set the director on a path to Hollywood. It picked up the Audience Award in 1993, which led to interest from Columbia Pictures, investment in post production, a US release and an introduction to "the ultimate Sundance kid, Quentin Tarantino".
Nearly 20 years later, Rodriguez appeared in a Bronze winning film for Remy Martin. He was asked to direct a film featuring John Malkovich. The twist was that the film will only be released 100 years after its making, in 2115; the time it requires to make the brand’s Louis XIII product.
Back in 1997, Darren Aronofsky won the Directing Award for his surreal debut Pi .He went on to win further Sundance acclaim for the relentlessly bleak Requiem for a Dream.
Then in 2017, Aronofsky helped Droga5 and the New York Times win a Gold Lion for the documentary film The Truth is Hard to Find - Bryan Denton. The film featured never-before-seen pictures taken by New York Times photographer Bryan Denton during his coverage of the Iraqi counter terrorism forces in Bartella, Iraq, on October 26, 2016. During this assignment, Mr Denton was hit by an ISIS-deployed suicide car bomb. In the film, he describes his experience on the ground, and we see some of his outtakes, leading up to the explosion and the final shot featured in The Times article.