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Redford turns attention to his own career

January 22, 2006

By Duane Byrge

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) – It’s back to the
future for Robert Redford. For, to cite another movie, he’s
going back to being the Sundance Kid once again. With the
Sundance Institute celebrating its 25th year and the Sundance
Festival in its 20th year, Redford feels that the maturation
both have experienced should allow him to shift his own
personal priorities.

With a bursting enthusiasm that is not outdone by any of
the legions of young filmmakers at the film festival, Redford
said Friday that he plans to re-energize his own career. After
giving so much to new filmmakers, Redford is bursting to find
and develop his own projects and, most assuredly, to direct
them.

While many of the young filmmakers at this year’s Sundance
have likely never seen “Ordinary People,” and, if they have,
would change the title to make it more reality-show friendly,
Redford feels that the Sundance Institute and the festival in a
sense are now mature adults. Like a good, proud parent, he
feels confident enough about them to refocus on his own career.

“I feel that basically where I am now is that I put a lot
of energy and time into supporting the festival activities that
required my personal presence,” he said. “Now, Sundance has its
own identity, and I can return wholeheartedly to the passions
that inspired me to develop Sundance in the first place,”
Redford said.

Indeed, his establishing the Sundance Institute in 1980 and
the early years of nurturing what some called “Redford’s
Folly,” required his continued presence to give the festival a
face to gather supporters and resources. It was the time of his
peak stardom and around his Oscar win for directing “Ordinary
People,” which wasn’t your typical Hollywood generic story but
rather a film about the repressed lives of a Midwestern family.

That doesn’t mean Redford is abandoning the summer labs and
the festival, which inspire and energize him, but rather that
he will become more active as a filmmaker, finding projects,
nurturing them and directing. For Redford, it has always been
the storytelling that has driven his endeavors.

He is very secure in the festival’s operation and
direction. “Since we’ve always programed for diversity and not
commerciality, we’ve maintained our integrity even with the
high volume,” he said.

With his perspective, Redford sees certain similarities
between today’s young filmmakers and those that came to before
Sundance.

“The danger to the young generation, and now I’m talking
primarily about teenagers who are making digital films, is they
have not had life experience to draw form,” he said. “In the
’70s you had a breed of filmmakers that came out of film
school. You can see that their work is very gifted but they
didn’t have any real-world experience. When I talk about young
filmmakers today — and we’re talking about teenagers because
they’re doing digital — you can see it in their movies, too.”

Such deficiencies in life experience can show up in
hyper-aesthetics. Style may supersede substance, Redford said,
and the challenge for the Institute will be the same as it was
25 years ago — to nurture and develop the storytelling
techniques of the new filmmakers so that their own regional and
personal voices can come to full expression.

About 10 years ago, he said, the festival had a spate of
violent films in the wake of “Reservoir Dogs.” “When
something’s successful, you are going to have copycats, no
matter what it is,” he added. “(Today) I think they’ve
manufactured violence. Using violence as a commercial tool has
been overdone. I’ve always objected to that.

“I like that working with violence because violence is very
much a part of our society,” Redford said. “But what I’m
talking about is token violence, put in gratuitously. Clearly
there are a lot of filmmakers who have witnessed other films
with violence, and they don’t think anything of pushing that to
an extreme, so that it become almost a cartoon. There is enough
violence in the world that is real. Just a conversation between
people can be violent. I believe in (addressing) violence. I
don’t believe in token violence, violence used for commercial
purposes.”

Redford was drawing from his experience with directors that
he worked with as a young actor like George Roy Hill, who
served as a war pilot. “William Wellman had a life to draw
form,” Redford added. “John Huston, Howard Hawks — they all
had life experiences to draw from.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Source: reuters



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