Sundance doesn’t truly begin until Robert Redford has spoken at the Day One Press Conference, which took place moments ago at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah. Redford — who, in an unusual move, left the event early — wasn’t the only one on hand, however, as incoming Director of Programming Kim Yutani also spoke alongside Festival Director John Cooper, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam, and several members of the programming team.
In addition to Redford’s early departure, this year’s opener differed from prior editions in one key way: Programmers were onstage answering questions submitted by members of the press in advance. Before they started fielding those questions, Putnam spoke about the diversity among the filmmakers at Sundance — and how it isn’t always matched by the members of the press in attendance, who consist largely of white men.
“This lack of diversity has real-world implications on sales, distribution, and opportunity, so we decided to do something about it: We vastly reshaped who we accredited. I’m proud to announce that 63 percent of the credentialed press are from underrepresented groups this year,” Putnam said to applause from the audience.
“Beyond that, with fundings from some amazing foundations and companies, we’re providing them with stipends, mentorship, and community events so that these first-time Sundancers, these critics and journalists, are able to be fully included,” she added.
The lack of diversity among film critics has been an increasingly prevalent topic in recent years, especially at festivals, where a relatively small number of critics help shape the initial conversation surrounding highly anticipated titles that often aren’t seen by wider audiences for several months.
Following the live-stream, which may be watched below, Sundance has uploaded the entire press conference to its YouTube page.