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Vision Award

The festival’s top honor, the Vision Award, pays tribute to industry icons who have provided the keen insight, influence and initiative needed to see their creative visions come to fruition. Past honorees include Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone and Geena Davis.

“We started the Vision Award with Clint Eastwood, because he’s an icon of the industry we really wanted to celebrate,” says festival Director Candice Pate. “Since then, we’ve built quite a tradition of honoring heavy hitters whose contributions will stand the test of time.”

2020 Honoree

Amy Poehler

AMY POEHLER is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and sought-after talents with credits including that of actress, writer, executive producer, and bestselling author. 

Poehler currently serves as co-creator, executive producer, and the lead voice of FOX’s animated series Duncanville. She stars as co-host (alongside Nick Offerman) and executive producer of the hit crafting competition series Making It, which aired its second season in December. She also has multiple projects in the works as part of her successful production company Paper Kite Productions. She serves as executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series Russian Doll (starring Natasha Lyonne) and She recently wrapped on directing her newest feature film called Moxie, which is based on Jennifer Mathieu’s feminist young adult novel. Additional upcoming projects include Adult Swim’s half-hour comedy Three Busy Debras; the film adaptations of children’s fiction book The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and the Rebecca Makkai-authored The Great Believers; and an untitled basketball comedy feature for Universal that she will also star in. 

Outside of her film and television work, she continues to produce the award-winning online website “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls,” which showcases real girls who are changing the world by being themselves. 

Poehler is perhaps best known for her starring role on the Emmy-nominated NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation, which completed its seventh and final season in February 2015. Her portrayal of Leslie Knope earned her a 2014 Golden Globe award for “Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical, or Comedy,” the award for “Best Actress in a TV Comedy” at the 2014 American Comedy Awards, and a 2013 Gracie Award. For her work on the show, Poehler also received six consecutive Emmy nominations, two additional Golden Globe nominations, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations. 

In the film world, Poehler recently made her directorial debut in the buzzed-about Netflix comedy Wine Country, which she also starred in and produced. Her additional film credits include The House, Sisters, Wet Hot American Summer, They Came Together, A.C.O.D., Free Birds, Are You Here, Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and Mean Girls. She lent her voice as the character “Joy” in Disney Pixar’s Oscar-winning smash hit Inside Out and could also be heard in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Monsters vs. Aliens, Horton Hears a Who!, and Shrek the Third

Poehler’s first book, “Yes Please,” was released in October 2014 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The book went on to spend over 23 weeks on the list. 

After her much buzzed about portrayal of Senator Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Presidential Election, Poehler completed her eighth and final season of Saturday Night Live (and her fifth as the co-anchor of “Weekend Update”). That year she received her first Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series” for her work on Saturday Night Live. This was an unprecedented nomination, making her the first performer in SNL history to land a spot in this category. She went on to receive a second nomination for her work on her final season the following year. In December 2015, Poehler returned to the SNL stage to co-host the show alongside Tina Fey. The duo’s performance led them to win the 2016 Emmy Award for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.” 

Poehler joined the SNL cast from the Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch/improv troupe that she co-founded and continues to be heavily involved in. The group has opened theaters which are regarded as the premiere sketch/improv comedy venues in New York City and Los Angeles. 

Poehler co-hosted the Golden Globe Awards alongside Tina Fey for three consecutive years from 2013-2015, a role that was consistently met with critical acclaim. 

She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York. 

Past Recipients

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan, our 2019 honoree, was widely recognized in her first Golden Globe-nominated performance as Sally Allbright in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron. She went on to star in Nora Ephron’s hit romantic comedy SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, opposite Tom Hanks, garnering a second Golden Globe nomination. Her last collaboration with Ephron and Hanks was the romantic comedy YOU’VE GOT MAIL, which once again gained Ryan international recognition as she was awarded her third Golden Globe nomination for her role in the film.

Acclaim has also come to Ryan for her distinctive dramatic portraits, including her role opposite Denzel Washington as the first military woman nominated for a Medal of Honor in COURAGE UNDER FIRE, directed by Ed Zwick, and her moving portrayal of a wonderful woman with a drinking problem in Luis Mandoki’s WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN, opposite Andy Garcia. For her performance opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the Sundance Institute’s PROMISED LAND, she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

Ryan exhibits her versatility and natural charm in every role she plays. Ryan’s recent film credits include Cheryl Hines’ SERIOUS MOONLIGHT penned by the late Adrienne Shelley; the remake of George Cukor’s 1930 film THE WOMEN; Jonathan Kasdan’s IN THE LAND OF WOMEN and Steven Schachter’s THE DEAL.


A Fairfield, Connecticut native, Ryan embarked on her acting career after studying journalism at New York University. She made her motion picture debut as Candice Bergen’s daughter in RICH AND FAMOUS, and attracted the attention of moviegoers and critics in her 1986 performance as a fighter pilot’s wife in TOP GUN.

In 2011, Ryan traveled to Cambodia with journalist Nick Kristof as part of the groundbreaking PBS documentary series, HALF THE SKY.

Ryan can last be seen in her directorial film debut ITHACA, written by Erik Jendersen and based on the novel by William Saroyan. ITHACA was released September 9th, 2016.

The festival chose to honor Gwyneth Paltrow in 2018 in part because her career has expanded into media other than film, which SVFF Director Candice Pate says dovetailed nicely with the festival’s widening media horizons.

“I think the work she’s done across many spectrums is really emblematic of how we want to expand the festival,” Pate said. “We want to celebrate those accomplishments. Given how media landscape is shifting to include more formats, we are broadening our own offerings… That we get to celebrate this women who has this long list of achievements in and out of cinemas is really great.”

Paltrow, whose 1998 performance in “Shakespeare in Love” garnered her Best Actress honors at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Academy Awards, is also a decorated author, singer and entrepreneur.

In 2008 Paltrow launched goop, an online store and newsletter providing lifestyle advice and information. goop’s recent ventures include goop magazine in collaboration with Condé Nast and goop Lab, its first permanent store in Brentwood, Calif.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Geena Davis

Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors. In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Accidental Tourist. Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female president of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief,” earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Preformance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama.

Davis is also recognized for her tireless advocacy of gender equality in media nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the Geeena Davis Institute of Gender in Media. In 2015, Davis launched the Bentonville Film Festival, an unprecedented initiative in support of women and diversity in the entertainment industry and serves as it’s Co-Founder and Chair. Davis was recently awarded the Women in Motion award from Kering and Cannes Film Festival for her contributions to the movie industry and the women’s cause as part of a program that aims to support female professionals in the film business.

Academy Award- winning director Oliver Stone was 2016 recipient of the Vision Award. Stone, known for films that take a critical look at controversial issues in American politics, “is truly one of the great ones” says Executive Director Teddy Grennan.

Leaving Vietnamn in 1968 after being wounded twice- and being warded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star- Stone used his experience in Vietnam to become one of the most famous and controversial filmmakers in the United States, producing and directing such movies as “Platoon” and its sequels, “Born on the Forth of July” and “Heaven & Earth,” along with more than 20 other films.

The Sun Valley Film Festival noted in a news release that Stone’s “rabble-rousing” films and unique vision, often casting a critical eye on American political issues of the late 20th century, have left a legacy on American filmmaking, for which he was awarded the 2016 festival’s Lifetime Vision Award.

Oliver Stone

Clint Eastwood

In 2015 Clint Eastwood was honored with the Lifetime Vision Award at the Roundhouse with an intimate dinner midway up Bald Mountain. In In 1985, Eastwood filmed Pale Rider just outside Sun Valley in the Boulder Mountains. The actor and director has earned countless awards throughout his career, some of which are the most prestigious in the industry. Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004) earned two Academy AwardsBest Picture and Best Director. It also awarded him with a Golden Globe for Best Picture.  

Clint Eastwood sums up SVFF’s Vision Award, with his keen insight, influence and initiative to see his creative visions come to fruition perfectly. While he is one of the most iconic American actors to this day he is also a part of this community. SVFF is a community driven event and to include someone who is a part of it is a great honor. SVFF was and is proud to share this award with one of the most iconic and well respected actor and filmmaker of our time.