×

Robert Redford Kicks Off Sundance: ‘Television is Advancing Faster than Filmmaking’

As the movie industry continues to struggle to keep up with new streams of competition, Robert Redford talked about how Sundance 2015 will represent “change,” a word that he used repeatedly at the press conference that kicked off the festival.

“I believe change is inevitable,” Redford said, talking to reporters in Park City on Thursday afternoon. “I think we can see there are some people that go with change. There are others that don’t, because they are afraid of change.”

Redford noted how Sundance, which he started 31 years ago, championed filmmakers who may not have otherwise found a way into Hollywood. “The idea that the festival was meant to use change to underline diversity,” Redford said. “Diversity is something I think moves the ball, and it’s something I think we represent.”

The festival’s director John Cooper, who joined Redford on the panel with executive director Keri Putnam, mentioned how Ava DuVernay won best director at Sundance for her 2012 film “Middle of Nowhere.” DuVernay then went on to direct “Selma,” which landed a best picture nomination this year.

Redford noted the differences between the television and film businesses. “I started in television,” Redford said, answering an audience question about the two mediums. “I’m a big fan of television. Mainstream film is shrinking; it’s harder and harder for an artist to find their way in the film business.”

“My impression is television is advancing faster than major filmmaking,” he added.

Redford spoke passionately about how the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks shook creative communities around the world. “I think there is an attack on freedom of expression in many places,” Redford said. “That was a sad event. It was a shocking event, but I have a hunch it was a bit of a waking event.” He said that at Sundance, “Freedom of expression is fundamental to us.” He said the festival has never shied away from showing controversial films.

Redford talked about how the business has dramatically transformed over the years. “I was fortunate as an actor for hire to be in the mainstream,” he said. “That’s all there was in the ’60s and ’70s.” He said that in the old studio system, he could make big-budget movies and then cross over to smaller films, as long as they had a budget under $1 million or $2 million. But that model no longer exists. “I felt Sundance would be a gap filler,” Redford said. Sundance “was not an insurgency against Hollywood. It was to keep something alive that was shrinking to death.”

Redford said it wasn’t his idea to have one of his films, the drama “A Walk in the Woods,” shown at the festival. “It’s very weird,” he added. “John and I have a relationship where I try to stay out of his business.”

He said he never wanted to be involved in the film selection process to avoid potential conflicts of interest. “I think that would be self-interested, and I don’t want to do it. We all agreed upon it until recently, when John went out of bounds,” Redford joked.

Redford said that he understands filmmakers who struggle to get distribution for their movies. “I’ve had experiences that have been sad,” Redford said. “I’ve done some films that have no distributor. I can relate.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Wonder Woman 1984

    Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Wipe Out All of Summer Blockbuster Season?

    Say goodbye to blockbuster season — at least for this year. After would-be summer hits from Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal already vacated their release dates, Sony Pictures announced Monday that its comic book adventure “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and virtually all of its upcoming tentpoles were being moved into the fall or beyond. It was [...]

  • 'Dolphin Reef' Review: A Dazzling Look

    'Dolphin Reef' on Disney Plus: Film Review

    Out of the vast universe of nature documentaries, I don’t think I’m alone in finding films about life under the sea to occupy a special place. The very fact that they exist, of course, is amazing — though when you watch one, part of the wonder is that you’re not thinking about how aquamarine filmmakers [...]

  • CONJURING DAD – In Disney and

    What's Coming to Disney Plus in April 2020

    Disney Plus will continue to expand its library next month, adding older films as well as new episodes of its original programming. Less than a month after its release on March 6, Pixar’s “Onward” is making an early jump to Disney’s streaming platform amid the coronavirus pandemic. With the vast majority of theaters now closed [...]

  • Black AF Netflix

    Everything Coming to Netflix in April

    As everyone continues to self-quarantine and practice social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better “at-home” activity than catching up on all the new films and shows streaming on Netflix this April. A number of new series are set to premiere on the streaming platform, including “Never Have I Ever,” “#BlackAf,” “OuterBanks,” “The [...]

  • Steven Spielberg AFI Movie Club

    Steven Spielberg Launches AFI's New Movie Club With 'The Wizard of Oz'

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate and Americans face more time in quarantine, “There’s no place like home” resonates in an entirely different way, with the power to save millions – not just Dorothy. Aiming to encourage social distancing, the American Film Institute announced the launch of the AFI Movie Club with the help [...]

  • U.K. Distributors Take Concrete Steps to

    U.K. Distributors Take Steps to Support Independent Cinemas Amid Coronavirus

    U.K. cinemas remain shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and while some of the large chains with deep pockets have the wherewithal to ride out the crisis, independent cinemas are suffering. Some U.K. distributors have come up with solutions to remedy this. Modern Films was due to release Haifaa Al-Mansour’s festival favorite “The Perfect [...]

  • Vincent Marzello Obit Dead

    'The Witches' Star Vincent Marzello Dies at 68

    Actor Vincent Marzello, best known for his roles in “The Witches,” “Superman” and “The Spy Who Loved Me,” died on Tuesday. He was 68. Marzello’s wife, “Notting Hill” actor Lorelei King, tweeted the news. “The love of my life, my darling husband Vincent Marzello, died this morning,” she wrote. “To those who knew him, I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content