Redford says there are too many film festivals

Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:14pm EST
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off in Park City, Utah, on Thursday, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

But festival founder Robert Redford's involvement actually goes back to the late '70s with the Utah/U.S. Film Festival (which was taken over in 1984 by his Sundance Institute).

Because the festival has become America's top launching pad for independent films, Redford knows this year's acquisitions market is being watched closely as a barometer of the ailing indie business. But, as always, the 72-year-old filmmaker is more interested in the movies themselves.

ARE THERE NOW TOO MANY FILM FESTIVALS?

Robert Redford: Yeah. That's a tricky thing for me to be saying -- it could look pretty selfish -- but I do think there's such a thing as too much of certain things. Look, I think there's now festivals for neighborhoods. If that satisfies people and they continue to grow and everyone's happy, so be it. My gut says there's such a thing as too much information, but I don't know.

When we started there was very little out there; now, there's a lot. My feeling is when the day comes when we're no longer providing the mission we started with -- not creating something new for audiences, not creating opportunities for new artists to have a place to come and develop -- then we shouldn't be here, and we won't. As long as we continue to create new advantages, we will continue, but not just to be continuing.

WHAT'S CHANGED MOST ABOUT THE FESTIVAL IN ALL THESE YEARS?

Redford: Well, the first year I was standing on the street trying to get people into the only theater that we had, the Egyptian. It was like a guy standing outside a speakeasy or something. People would say, "What are you doing here?" And I'd say, "Well, there's a thing we're doing."   Continued...

 
<p>Actor Robert Redford poses for a portrait in New York after being named winner of the 2008 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize on November 12, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>