Sundance 2015: Robert Redford Says Free Speech “In Danger”; Paris Attack “Wake-Up Call”

“There is an attack on freedom of expression in many places and it’s not exclusive to Paris,” said Robert Redford today at the Sundance Film Festival about the fatal Paris attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7. “It was a wake up event,” he added of the “sad event” and the killing of 12 journalists at the French weekly satirical publication.

“We believe in in diversity and freedom of expression,” Redford said noting the main theme of today’s opening press conference. “Freedom of expression seems to be in danger in a lot of places but as far as we concerned we’ll do everything in our power to keep it alive here,” said the Captain America: The Winter Soldier actor. “A safe place for filmmakers, a safe place is what Sundance represents.” As in past years, the founder of the now 31-year old fest was joined onstage at the Egyptian Theater by Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam and SFFF Director John Cooper

Earlier in the presser, diversity and change were the buzzwords onstage.

“Diversity is something that moves the ball,” said Redford, noting how important different voices and viewpoints has always been to his notion of the festival. So was the idea of change. “I believe change is inevitable,” noted the Oscar winner, “I want us to ride with it.”

A specific case of diversity or what some saw as the lack there of was brought up today as well.

“Ava DuVernay won the Best Directing award here for Middle of Nowhere,” noted Cooper on the diversity of Sundance compared to mainstream Hollywood. “That’s it,” he quipped, leaving the implications of the Selma helmer not receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Director this year for the civil rights film to hang in the air.

In the annual wide-ranging discussion, television also got special mention from the film fest execs. “Independent film and interesting TV are running neck and neck,” said Cooper. “I believe in television,” said Redford, who started his career on the small screen. “Television is film. The two of them together are blurring besides the money factor. Mainstream filmmaking is shrinking…my impression is television is advancing faster than major filmmaking,” the Sundance founder added.

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival runs from today to Feb. 1.

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