Robert Redford Sundance London Interview
Robert Redford Sundance London Interview
Given the battering you receive sometimes from a certain section in the American media and your comment in Lions For Lambs on the triviality of media, are you keeping a close eye on the Leveson Inquiry at the moment and do you hope for a return for proper investigative journalism?

Robert Redford

Yeah, I do. I’ve been watching with fascination, I must say, it’s fascinating to watch. Also, to pay you a compliment in one respect, as I watch the proceedings, I’ve been very impressed by the dignity and elegance of the way the process has gone forward. People take their time speaking. In my country, things have become so accelerated and hyped up that you can hardly follow it – there’s so much personality to how the press expresses itself. It’s got to be a lot of noise and not as much substance as noise and personality. That’s sad for me to see because it blurs the more important part, which is, 'Where are we going to find the truth?'

The democratisation of the internet has actually made the truth harder to find, along with its positives. I think that journalism has declined - because of the role of entertainment in journalism, which has gotten too excessive. It’s nice for me to watch the proceedings done with a certain amount of dignity, because that’s not going on in my country.
At Park City there's a real vibe because it's an attractive small town and it has its own atmosphere. You can't possibly hope to recreate that in what used to be a former industrial site in south-east London, so what kind of vibe are you hoping to create and if it works, would you consider coming back next year?

John Cooper

The vibe for me is really in the theatres and with the filmmakers and the audience. I think if we can get that going then it doesn’t matter what it looks like out here. We don’t really even worry about what Park City looks like – it’s the feeling of audience and our filmmakers all here with us so we wanted a place where it can be that community and audiences can talk directly. The vibe is more from us, than it is from the place.

Robert Redford

Another thing is that Park City is not Sundance. Sundance is a place forty miles away higher up and deeper into the mountains in a more intimate setting. The reason we’re in Park City is that as the festival idea grew, we were going to need an infrastructure that the actual place didn’t have. But to me, that’s the real Sundance, so we sort of rent Park City for its infrastructure but if you were to compare the two, there’s a great contrast to what Park City represents year round and what we represent. So we just take it for ten days. But in terms of what our main objective is, the aim of independent filmmakers, it really happens in Sundance.
Having been involved with Sundance for so long, it's a fairly well-oiled machine, but bringing it here, did you have to break it down into its kind of nuts and bolts and did that offer a fresh perspective? What did you discover about the festival after so long?

John Cooper

It’s hard to go from big to small – it was a game of sorts to get there, but I don’t think we're going to know. It’s very complicated, there are lots of films playing, there’s lots of music and we’re going to see how the whole thing plays out. It’s very different too, going from a pure destination festival where everybody goes there and you know you have them, to a city festival where you’re in with people’s lives and they have to pick and choose what they’re going to come to so we’re watching that as well. It’s kind of a challenge, but exciting at the same time.
Is there any one specific event, film or title in Sundance London that you would recommend or are looking forward to?

John Cooper

I’m quite curious about The Queen of Versailles, actually because it’s a film that’s a metaphor for America and I’ve tracked very closely a lot of audiences for that film, in particular. I’m curious to see what the British audience will think of it.

Robert Redford

I’m going to be diplomatic, or maybe even political, in saying that I wouldn’t single out one film over the other. I think they all represent different points of view about American life and that’s what we hope would happen, so I look at it more as a collective.
Would you consider bringing over the labs to England in future, if Sundance London were to be successful?

Robert Redford

I think probably the better person to answer that is Keri Putnam, who directs our lab programmes and Michelle Satter, because she was there at the very beginning when we started the labs. On a personal basis, I would love the idea since we have labs in other countries, Africa, Jordan, China, India. Obviously London would be one of the ways to handle that but I don’t know whether that would work. They would know better than I do.
Do you think in America that the government do enough for the arts and what more could they could do?

Robert Redford

No! [Laughs] Let’s start with money and acknowledgement. Let’s start with the fact that art has to be acknowledged as playing a more important role in our society than it’s currently being played for and I think that that goes with the educational system. I think that art should play a greater role of education but it doesn’t because of the more narrow-minded, right wing elements in our political system. Basically, one of the reasons that they’re so far right is that they’re afraid of change. They see art as an agent for change. Rather than a positive, they see it as threat so therefore they try to knock it down and keep it from growing, which I think is a horrible mistake. We don’t have the subsidies that other countries have, like you do, and I think that it’s a tragedy so I feel very strongly about that.
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Content updated: 14/10/2019 17:42

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