Festival founder suggests he will reduce public-facing duties
Sundance founder Robert Redford has been spotted around Park City during the film festival's opening days, but he has stepped back from some of the traditional duties of serving as unofficial host of the event.
As he has for decades, Redford formally kicked off the festival, speaking to media gathered in the Egyptian Theatre on Thursday afternoon. But he only made brief remarks before exiting the stage, hinting at a new role he sees for himself.
"Having done this, God it’s 34 years now since the festival started, I think we’re at a point where I can move on to a different place," he said. "Because the thing I’ve missed over the years is being able to spend time with the films and with the filmmakers and to see their work and enjoy their work and be part of their community."
He added, "I’ve been sort of spending a lot of time introducing everything but I don’t think the festival needs a whole lot of introduction now. I think it kind of runs on its own course and I’m happy for that. So let me just say that I am grateful that you’re here."
It was a relaxed, even buoyant Redford who appeared on stage by himself, joking about the whereabouts of Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam and festival director John Cooper (they later appeared as Redford exited backstage).
He displayed the same kind of light, wry touch that he demonstrated in his most recent movie, The Old Man & the Gun, where he played an unrepentant and charming bank robber. Last August the 82-year-old star announced that film would be his last, but not longer afterwards he revised what had been taken as a retirement announcement.
“That was a mistake. I should never have said that,” he told Variety. “If I’m going to retire, I should just slip quietly away from acting. But I shouldn’t be talking about it because I think it draws too much attention in the wrong way.”
Redford has earned two Academy Awards--one for directing 1980's Ordinary People and another honorary award for founding Sundance. As remarkable as his Hollywood career has been (his first credited role came in 1960), his most remarkable achievement may be having created the Sundance Institute and its best known extension, the Sundance Film Festival.
"I’ve been doing this for 34 years, introducing the festival, welcoming you all because you play such a vital role in what we’re doing. Without your involvement we wouldn’t be seen or known much," he said at the opening day news conference. "Thank you for that."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.