“I think Harvey Weinstein was a moment in time and we are going to move past that,” said Robert Redford today at the press conference to kick off the 35th Sundance Film Festival, directly addressing the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault and discrimination that have enveloped Hollywood in recent months.
“He is not going to stop the show,” the Oscar winner and Sundance founder added of the once-dominant producer.
“The role for men right now is to listen and to let women’s voices be heard,” Redford said earlier on the first day of Sundance 2018. “It’s a time of change that can lead to a new conversation.”
Detailing the present as “a kind of tipping point” over “too much male dominance,” Redford also said, “my standpoint is that change is inevitable.” He then declared, “Change is going to come.”
“This period of change is bringing forth more opportunities for women and women in film to have their voices heard and do their own projects.”
As in past years, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam and festival director John Cooper joined Redford onstage at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre.
Noting that issues of discrimination and prejudice in hiring and maintaining careers have a long way to go, Putnam admitted that she felt “a different energy” coming out of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. “I don’t think making change in a complex system like ours is easy,” Putnam also told the media at the Main Street venue.
“We were sickened to learn of Harvey’s behavior,” Putman noted of the disgraced producer, whose decades of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault were revealed last fall and sparked more revelations. Emphasizing that Sundance knew nothing of Weinstein’s actions (some of which, according to claims, have taken place at past festivals), noting the public code of conduct on display this year, the 24-hour hotline the Utah Attorney General has set up, and that 38% of the directors at Sundance this year are women, Putnam said “we are not going to go backwards.”
“I’m sick of Harvey Weinstein,” Cooper said. “He wasn’t even that big a deal the past few years.”
Unlike last year’s The Discovery and 2013’s A Walk in the Woods, Redford does not have a film in this year’s Sundance. Of course, the Presidential Medal of Freedom honore ewill be taking the stage in more than a few SFF venues over the next week, like introducing the opening-night film Blindspotting later today at the Eccles.
As he has in past years, the Oscar winner started the presser by giving his “Who we are and how we got here” speech detailing why he first put the indie fest together in the mid-1980s. “Once it caught on, it caught fire and more artists realized they had a place they could go,” Redford noted on, again ribbing Cooper over his career at Sundance.
“Journalism is our means of getting to the truth,” the All The President’s Men star made a point of noting about the year of “Fake News” and the media under attack in the first year of Donald Trump’s Presidency. “I’m a big fan of journalism,” Redford asserted to a room full of reporters covering.
This year’s SFF runs from today to January 28 in Park City, Salt Lake City and elsewhere in the region.
Anthony Dalessandro contributed to this report.