It was a full circle moment for Greta Gerwig at the 2023 IndieWire Honors, where the “Barbie” writer/director received the Auteur Award and looked back on a career spent making indies.

“I feel like, ‘Oh, this is ‘Barbie’ and this is IndieWire; does this go together?’ But IndieWire is one of the places that first made me believe I could be a director,” Gerwig said at the event taking place at NeueHouse Hollywood on December 6. “I truly really would have never directed if it weren’t for journalists, and especially journalists at IndieWire, who saw me as someone who had something to say before I really knew I had something to say at all.”

The visionary creative behind the highest-grossing film ever helmed by a woman first broke onto the low budget scene as a performer in the early aughts. Gerwig described seeing fellow honoree Benny Safdie at festivals — “Dude, I can’t believe we’re both here!” — where she also formed lasting relationships with the reporters still celebrating her work all these years and coats of pink later. (Safdie received the Wavelength Award with Nathan Fielder for Showtime’s “The Curse.”)

“Anne Thompson: she was one of the very first journalists even before I directed, and she saw me as an author, as an actor,” Gerwig said. “I was writing, I was co-directing, but I didn’t yet feel like I was an author. And she treated me as such before I was.”

Gerwig and Thompson spoke ahead of the IndieWire Honors, in a sweeping interview exploring the filmmaker’s process published earlier this week. “When I finally did direct and I showed ‘Lady Bird,’ she was the very first journalist I talked to at Telluride,” Gerwig said, laughing. “It felt very emotional; we were in a back room, and we were both wearing blazers.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: (L-R) Honorees Benny Safdie, Lee Sung Jin, Greta Gerwig and Todd Haynes attend IndieWire Honors 2023 at NeueHouse Hollywood on December 06, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/IndieWire via Getty Images)
(Left to right) Benny Safdie, Lee Sung Jin, Greta Gerwig and Todd Haynes at the IndieWire HonorsIndieWire via Getty Images

Gerwig continued, “[IndieWire co-founder] Eugene Hernandez, his faith, his support, his thoughtfulness. When you make something and you’re starting out, everything you do feels sort of unreal and you think, ‘Are people watching? Does anyone care?’ And he was one of those people who always found me in a crowd and said, ‘Well done!’ and ‘What’s next?’ and ‘What are we doing?’ That means everything when you’re trying to build some sort of raft.” Hernandez is now the Director of the Sundance Film Festival and its Public Programming.

In the thick of awards season, Gerwig is front and center in the 2024 Oscars race with plenty of supporters vying for her to win Best Director. Looking back on her track record from the IndieWire Honors podium, Gerwig poked fun at the critics responsible for grading her past work.

“As a person who is a bit of a rule follower, and I really enjoy getting good grades, I’m still extremely stressed out that you grade movies,” she said. “[No matter how big a movie gets], a small part of me still says, ‘It’s still a B+. It’s not quite there.’ I don’t know if anybody else shares that anxiety.” It’s worth noting that IndieWire’s Kate Erbland, who was also present at the awards, gave “Barbie” an “A-“.

Gerwig ended her remarks shouting out another award recipient and his indie beginnings, making a subtle nod to Todd Haynes who won the Visionary Award for his latest, “May December.”

“To be in this room tonight with the original Barbie director and to accept this award for ‘Barbie’ is incredible,” Gerwig said; Haynes first gained recognition in 1987 for his short film “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” which was made using, you guessed it, Barbies.

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Veronica Flores conducted all interviews for IndieWire Honors social media videos.

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