Jen Yamato is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
Robert Redford opened the 2013 edition of his Sundance Film Festival this afternoon with “change” on his mind after he told the Associated Press earlier in the day he’s “not certain” these days about his role in the indie film world, adding that he is “overwhelmed now by his duties as Sundance’s head of state” 34 years after he founded the festival. During his annual start-of-fest press conference in Park City, he addressed those comments only slightly. “I think change can be divided into three sections,” he said. “Since it’s inevitable, some people fight it and resist it because they’re afraid of it. Other people accept it and roll along with it.… Others see it in a positive way”.
Redford was less subtle in firing back at Utah-based right-wing group the Sutherland Institute, which this week called for the state to cut ties with the “obscene” festival, which has a reputation for its liberal leanings and is nestled in the mountains of a conservative state. “$80 million comes to the local economy in 10 days – pretty good”, Redford said. “They should maybe look at the Constitution.”
He touched on other topics including gun violence in entertainment, a day after President Obama outlined new gun control initiatives following the Newtown school shooting. “Does my industry think guns sell movies?” Redford mused, adding, “I think it’s worth asking that question”. He also flatly denied recent reports that a Sundance outpost in Brooklyn is in the works.
Emphasizing the festival’s ability to adapt content to a changing landscape, Redford highlighted initiatives and additions in recent years including the New Frontiers section linking technology and artists and the festival’s embrace of the online sphere to support short films and documentaries. “What we try to do is look down the road to what might be coming,” he said, “We always have to be on the ball”.
Despite the myriad indie filmmakers who come through the Sundance pipeline, few have asked the Oscar-winner to participate in their indie projects. But Redford said that JC Chandor, whose Margin Call was snapped up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions after debuting at Sundance 2011, has cast him for his next film, the low-budget All Is Lost, which will be dialogue-free.