David O. Russell: From Ticket Taker to Oscar Nominee

David O. Russell, who began his movie career as a Sundance Film Festival ticket taker in 1991, woke up today to find that his film THE FIGHTER had nabbed seven Academy Award nominations, including best picture and, for him, best director.

It was a triumph for the filmmaker, who has experienced career ups and downs but who found inspiration in his festival experience lo those many years ago.

“It is a vindication for my heart as a filmmaker,” Russell said Tuesday of the Oscar nods in an interview with the New York Times. “The Hollywood thing kind of bottomed out for me in the last few years, so I was sort of back to basics, and I was just grateful to be making a movie about really amazing real people. That’s where I was when I was a ticket taker.”

The fact that the nominations were announced while the Sundance Film Festival was in full swing also struck Russell as good timing: His first feature, SPANKING THE MONKEY, won the audience award when it debuted at the festival in 1994. “It’s come full circle,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.