Robert Redford officially kicked off the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Thursday by defining the festival’s role under the incoming Trump administration. During the fest’s opening day press conference, held at the Egyptian Theater, Redford stated that Sundance doesn’t “play advocacy” and tries to stick to the stories.
“The idea is that presidents come and go. The pendulum swings back and forth…so we don’t occupy ourselves with politics,” Redford said. “The idea of us being involved in politics is just not so. We stay away from that because we feel that it’s far more important to support the storytellers and let them tell the stories. If politics comes up in their stories, that’s fine, but we do not take a position.”
At the same time, Redford voiced his strong support for the environment as the festival prepares to show films from its first ever program dedicated to the climate.
“I began to be concerned about how we were savaging nature in order to just develop for short term profit,” Redford said. “As time went on, that feeling just grew in me as I could see things shrinking all around me. Is anyone thinking about future generations and your grandkids and what you’re giving them? Are we going to leave them anything to work with? So that increased for me so that I became an advocate.”
Here are some of the highlight’s from their conversation.
“What independent film does is show so much more of the human side of who we are and what we are. It’s where we go to get these stories of other people, of other places, the issues from a different angle and I think that’s really important and I think we’re going to stand behind our artists and just follow them and support them.”
“It’s also a time for us to celebrate and affirm some of the founding values of Sundance, which obviously include the power of art and artists to propel us forward as a society, but also free expression. All the documentary journalists out there — I think that’s an important value, and I think also the equality and the importance of all voices. The idea is that diverse voices make a difference, and I think these things have always been a core part of Bob’s founding vision and the programming here.”
“I think what’s happened is documentaries have become more and more important as the news media world has shrunk into more of a sound bite world. Everything is so clipped and short that it gives you no time to digest, no time to contemplate. It’s already moving on to the next event, so therefore I felt that documentaries are having a more important role than ever, because it becomes like long-form journalism. It has a chance to really tell the story so the public can really digest it and see how they feel about it.”