Redford: I think the election will galvanize people

Sundance founder on staying out of politics but getting involved with the environment at opening press conference.

by Amber Wilkinson

The 2017 edition of Sundance may have kicked off on the eve of President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration but festival founder Robert Redford had no intention of getting bogged down in politics.

Speaking at the Egyptian Theatre in the heart of Park City, he said: "Presidents come and go. The pendulum swings. We try to stay away form politics per se. If politics comes up in the stories the filmmakers are telling, so be it."

He added: "We stay away from that. We do not take a position."

But he did say that he thought the election result would ultimately "galvanize people". He said: "I hope and I think that it's going to be followed by a movement and I think that's very helpful."

Speaking at a round table after the conference, director of programming Trevor Groth also addressed the outcome of the election in terms of the festival's programming. He said: "It really didn't impact our decisions. when we took a step back and looked at the programme, a lot of the ideas in the films took on different implications but it didn't change our selections."

This year, the festival is championing environmentally themed films, under the New Climate banner. Speaking about selecting An Inconvenient Sequel as a day one film - which sees Al Gore continue to fight for global awareness of climate change - festival director John Cooper said: "I liked the idea of going global and saying, there's a problem up here that overrides all this, even overrides all parties."

He also talked about the initiatives that Sundance have taken this year to try to encourage more environmental filmmaking. "I was afraid it [the drop off in films with an environmental theme] was coming from funding, that maybe we'd talked so much about the environment it became not as sexy. I was worried we were getting lazy, apathetic, we've already 'done it'. I was speculating that was maybe the case."

Also speaking about the New Climate theme, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam added: "The idea of climate change for us, we think we have a unique role to play because we see this as a human issue not a partisan issue. I don't think that most people don't think that climate change isn't real."

Whether the festival is taking a position or not, its attendees are highly likely to. An anti-Trump women's march is planned in the city on Saturday.

Watch the conference at the top of this article.

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