Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford, director John Cooper and Sundance Institute director Keri Putnam talked guns, sex and film at the opening press conference.
It was held Thursday afternoon at the Egyptian Theatre. This year’s moderator was Sean P. Means, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune. Most of the talk was on change—how indie film has changed and the festival along with it.
You can watch the entire event here (or we’ll give you the gist below).
Guns were brought up by a member of the press specifically mentioning those who blame for the Newton massacre, in part, on violence in films. Cooper brought up this year’s film Valentine Road, which addresses gun violence.
Redford mentioned that when he started the festival, an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan, and this discussion came up then. Redford says he's unsure if it's been perpetuated, in part, by his industry. “Does my industry think that guns will help sell tickets? I don’t know,” he says, “It’s worth asking the question.”
As for the Sutherland Institute’s criticism of Sundance content (click here to read all about it), Redford brushed it off. “Sometimes the narrowest mind barks the loudest,” he says. He also mentioned that if Sundance did close up shop, it would take nearly $80 million from Utah’s economy with it.
Redford also gave his thoughts on changes in film and media. “We watch as things happen in the world around us and adapt,” he says. Some of those changes have included more shorts and documentaries being promoted by the festival and emphasizing New Frontier and social media.
Another big Sundance focus: music.
This April, the Sundance Film and Music Festival will take place in London, with as much emphasis on music as film. At Utah’s festival, Cooper’s excited about partnerships with ASCAP for the music café and Los Angeles NPR flagship-station KCRW. (Click here for our post on the music at the fest.)
The London fest will feature American films in what Redford refers to as a “cultural exchange.” The reason they’re going to London: "London asked for it," says Redford.
Cooper shot down rumors of Sundance going to Brooklyn. Instead, he brought up one of the most notable differences he’s seen in the films lately: how sex is portrayed. “In the ‘60s, sex was about romance,” he says. “Now, it’s more about relationships and how they change due to pressure.”
Putnam mentioned 51 of this year's picks are from first-year filmmakers (and about half are women), mixed in with well-known filmmakers and A-list celebs. She also mentioned the Sundance Institute works in 13 countries worldwide, and the festival is an essential networking tool for the Institute’s fellows.
Redford identifies with those indie filmmakers and actors, since he’s both. “Since we’ve been supporting indie filmmakers for over 30 years, I was surprised nobody ever asked me to be in their film,” he says. But recently, he got a call from director J.C. Chandor to star in the 2013 film All Is Lost. Now, after also directing independently, he says he’s like a fish swimming in the same stream as the festival’s filmmakers.