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Park City Needs to Be Wary of Hubris Regarding Sundance

The Park Record’s Jay Hamburger wrote an article entitled, Sundance moves forward, but is it too big? The article cited a conversation between Robert Redford and Park City City Manager Diane Foster. Apparently Redford “wondered [to Foster] if the festival was getting too big.” It also cited comments from an Associated press story where Redford said he heard, “negative comments about how crowded it is and how difficult it is to get from venue to venue when there’s traffic and people in the streets and so forth.” Redford mentioned some ideas for either breaking up the festival or ending the festival.

Later in the article, Hamburger writes, “Nancy Garrison, a member of a Sundance Utah Advisory Board who lives in the Snyderville Basin, said the 2016 festival was a ‘fantastic experience.’ She said the Utah Advisory Board has not discussed a change like the one Redford described, adding that the festival has ‘evolved dramatically since its early days’ and it could be difficult for the founder to witness the changes.”

If the quote and paraphrasing of Ms. Garrison are accurate, it appears what Ms. Garrison is really saying is “Sorry Mr Redford, perhaps the festival has just outgrown you.” Oh, the hubris.

I don’t attend many Sundance screenings, but I always watch the Sundance Day One question and answer session with the movie critic from the Tribune, the director of the Sundance Film Festival, the Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, and the reason everyone came (Robert Redford). It provides a great state of world, through the eyes of Robert Redford. Why through Redford’s eyes? Because 99% of the questions (maybe all of them) from the attendees during Q&A are directed at Robert Redford. He is what they care about.

To say that Sundance has grown beyond simply Robert Redford is likely both true and false. Just listening to him speak, you understand that he never imagined the festival like it is today. However, he knows what he is trying to do and completely understands what the festival has become. He just may not like (all of) it.

Yet, to imply that somehow his opinions aren’t valuable because he can’t handle change, is pure folly.

You know, Robert Redford is 79. While we wish it wasn’t so, Park City, Sundance, and Utah will likely only be endowed with his gifts for a very-few more years. When the time comes that Mr Redford no longer arrives on a snowy day in January to our little corner of the mountain, it will be a big loss. When that happens, we’ll really get to see who handles change well.


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