I’m not much of a Sundance person. I usually see many of the films, but not until they’ve found their way onto HBO, Netflix, etc. Yet, I always watch the opening day interviews with Robert Redford. Why? Because he calls it like he sees it. He not only provides a view into the “State of the Film Industry” but a view into the state of the world. He’s usually a few steps ahead of the rest. My favorite theme of his is that despite everything, be it virtual reality, big budget, or no budget, a movie is about telling a story. His words and vision just make sense to me personally.
So when a Friend of the Park Rag pointed me toward an AP story entitled, “Robert Redford knows Sundance has gotten too big,” I took notice. It’s not that Redford thinks that Sundance should abandon Park City. It’s that he senses a change is coming. A few quotes from the story include:
- “I’m starting to hear some 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 said. “We’re going to have to look at that.”
- “When actors came who were well known, then the paparazzi came. Then once the paparazzi came, the fashion houses came. Suddenly this thing was going haywire,” he said, laughing that the recession actually helped temper the frivolousness a bit.
- “As it grew, so did the crowds, so did the development in Park City. Well, at some point, if both those things continue to grow, they’re going to begin to choke each other,” Redford said. “So then I have to think about, oh, do we now risk being who we are in the first place? Do we risk (losing) the heart and soul of what we were when we started against the odds. … Do we have to now rethink things?”
- “You have a couple of choices. You can go hard and say we’re going to stop it. Say ‘that’s the end.’ Let it go. Let someone else do it,” he said. “Or, you say well, if you want to keep it going, we can’t keep it going the way things are.”
- “One thought Redford had was to break up the festival into sections, instead of cramming narrative, documentaries, shorts and everything else into a tight 10 days in January. So, in this scenario, narrative features could play in January, and February would be for documentaries.”
It’d be hard to argue with Redford based upon this year’s festival. It’s likely the appearance of UberCopters said enough by themselves. Yet, it will be interesting to see how the festival changes in the next few years. I’m sure Mr. Redford doesn’t even know himself. He’s not the only component in the massive machine that Sundance has become. Yet, I can envision Mr. Redford standing on Bald Mountain looking out over the landscape … having watched a storm roll in. He knew it was coming, but now he’s in the middle of it (It’s always harder when you are in the middle of a storm to take action). What do you do?
Do you stare into it straight on, like an action hero, and hope to ride it out? Do you take cover and hope for the best? Do you flee the mountain while you still have a chance? Do you send your group off in different directions, hoping some will survive?
It has all the trappings of a great movie, and better yet, the protagonist and antagonist, are the same being. You just can’t make this stuff up.
That’s why the changes over the next few years of Sundance will likely end up making a great story.
h/t to the Friend of the Park Rag who let us know about this story.