Sundance 2016: Opening press conference

Cooper, Putnam and Redford happy to talk about diversity, audiences but not politics.

by Amber Wilkinson

John Cooper, Keri Putnam and Robert Redford
John Cooper, Keri Putnam and Robert Redford
The Sundance Film Festival got under way today with the annual press conference, featuring festival director John Cooper, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam and festival founder Robert Redford.

Redford said that the thing he was most looking forward to is "the audience response" to the films. He added: "You wait to see what the audience takes away."

Cooper agreed that he was "looking forward to the hand-off".

The trio avoided being drawn into political debate, with Cooper saying, when asked about the prevalence of issue-driven films this year - on subjects including gun control and abortion - "We show the films that are on the filmmakers' minds."

They also refused to be drawn into the #Oscarssowhite racial diversity row raging over the Academy Awards that has seen Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith say they will not attend and led to calls for Chris Rock to step down from his role as host.

ā€œIā€™m not into the Oscars,ā€ said Redford, before quickly circling back round the question, to add: "I can just see the headline - I don't like Oscars. That's for Donald Trump to say.

"What I mean is, I'm not focused on that, to me, it's about the work."

He added: "Diversity comes out of the word 'independent'. It's an automatic thing If you're independent minded you're going to do things different from the common form and you're going to have a ore diverse product. That's something we're proud of. We think it's important because its tied to the word independent.

"When we have these issues that come up, we don't bring them up, we just put a spotlight on the artist who bring them up. The artists are making films about what's in the public conversation. We don't personally take a position of advocacy in that sense."

Wrapping up the session, Putnam urged cinemagoers: "Don't forget the off-beat sections", going on to say that one of her favourites is UK-produced Under The Shadow, which is in the Midnight section, adding "I don't think of myself as a Midnight movie person, so I encourage every person to sample every section."

We'll be doing just that over the coming 10 days, read our ongoing coverage here.

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We're looking forward to Sundance and the Glasgow Film Festival.

We've recently covered New Directors/New Films andTallinn Black Nights, DOC NYC, Sheffield DocFest, the London Korean Film Festival, Welsh horror festival Abertoir, New York's Newfest, the October edition of Frightfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

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