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Penelope Cruz, Yorgos Lanthimos, Eric Roth Honored at Variety Brunch



After a starry awards gala kicked off the Palm Springs Film Festival, several of this year’s awards contenders and friends reconnected at Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch & Creative Impact Awards Presented by DIRECTV, Friday at the Parker Palm Springs hotel.

Before the presentation, the honorees posed on the red carpet and stopped for questions with Variety’s senior culture & events editor Marc Malkin. Anna Kendrick, a new member of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch, recalled the first time she yelled action on set for her film “Woman of the Hour.”

“Day one I was really worried about moving slowly on the first shot, of the first day, of the first Monday because it always sets the tone for the week,” the star-turned-director said. “And certainly, the very first one sets the tone for the whole shoot. I really raced through the first couple of setups because I was like, ‘We’re not going to have lead in our pants.’ I was trying to seem tough.”

Director of “American Fiction,” and fellow 10 to Watch initiate, Cord Jefferson revealed how it felt entering the new world of directing on film. “I’d never directed anything before this movie,” he said. “I’d never written a movie before this movie. It was a very nervous-making enterprise for me. It’s a vulnerable thing to put out something when you’ve never done it before. To be commended with this honor is beyond my wildest dreams truly.”

“Ferrari” star Penélope Cruz was honored with the Creative Impact in Acting Award, which was introduced by her “21 Grams” co-star Sean Penn. Penn described Cruz’s acting, saying it doesn’t matter which language she is speaking, “When she wants us to understand, we do. When she wants us to feel, we feel, because she lets us.”

“I feel very lucky to make a living out of acting,” Cruz said. “This has been my passion since I was a little girl. When I get an award for doing what I love the most, it feels very confusing and shocking. I used to pray every night when I was a little girl, ‘Please God, don’t lock me in an office.’ I thought, if I cannot release everything that is going on here, I know I would lose my mind.” Cruz said of her “Ferrari” director, “I was scared of Michael Mann, because I really admired everything he has done, and I heard stories, so I was terrified. He is tough, but I discovered also a deep, romantic, gentle man.”

“Poor Things” director Yorgos Lanthimos was presented with the Creative Impact in Directing Award by the film’s star Emma Stone, who channeled trademark Lanthimos absurdism. “To this day we have not had a conversation. We communicate solely in silence, and I still think cats are dangerous, violent animals because of what I saw in ‘Dogtooth,’” she joked, calling their collaboration on four films “one of the most fulfilling creative relationships of my life.”

Emma Stone, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Mark Ruffalo.
Photo by Amy Sussman/Variety via Getty Images

“I’ve been able to make the films I wanted to make with complete freedom, and that makes me take full responsibility for what the film is, especially if it’s a failure, and I can own it, and I can try to be better,” Lanthimos said. “Never in my life did I imagine I would be working with such wonderful actors, that I would get to call my friends,” he said, looking at Stone and co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe at his table.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” co-writer Eric Roth received the Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award, with the film’s star Lily Gladstone introducing him. Gladstone said “Forrest Gump” was her favorite movie that Roth has written, and said that at first she expected he would be tough to relate to. She paid tribute to how Roth “drew into focus the Osage history.”

Lily Gladstone and Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award honoree Eric Roth.
Photo by Amy Sussman/Variety via Getty Images

“I am just one voice,” Roth said, accepting his award. “I dedicate this to the Osage people.”

After Variety executive VP of global content Steven Gaydos welcomed guests to the event, Todd Gilchrist, focus senior editor, introduced the 10 Directors to Watch, recalling previous directors who made the list such as Christopher Nolan and Ava DuVernay.

Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch Honorees: Ilker Çatak, Aaron Schimberg, Titus Kaphar, Cord Jefferson, Anna Kendrick, Kobi Libii and Blitz Bazawule.
Photo by Amy Sussman/Variety via Getty Images

The 10 Directors to Watch are Blitz Bazawule (“The Color Purple”), Ilker Çatak (“The Teachers’ Lounge), Sophie Dupuis (“Solo”), Jefferson (“American Fiction”), Titus Kaphar (“Exhibiting Forgiveness”), Kendrick (“Woman of the Hour”), Kobi Libii (“The American Society of Magical Negroes”), Aaron Schimberg (“A Different Man”), Ena Sendijarević (“Sweet Dreams”) and Eva Trobisch (“Evo”).

Danielle Brooks and 10 Directors to Watch honoree Blitz Bazawule.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Variety via Getty Images

10 Directors to Watch honoree Cord Jefferson and Jeffrey Wright.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Variety via Getty Images

10 Directors to Watch honoree, Anna Kendrick.
Amy Sussman/Variety via Getty Images

Sean Penn and Mark Ruffalo.
Variety via Getty Images

Creative Impact Awards honoree Penélope Cruz.
Variety via Getty Images

Creative Impact in Directing Award honoree Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone.
Variety via Getty Images

Sean Penn speaks onstage during Variety’s 10 Directors To Watch & Creative Impact Awards.
Variety via Getty Images

David Greenbaum, Eric Roth and Jeffrey Wright.
Variety via Getty Images


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