Robert Redford Created The Sundance Institute To ‘Celebrate People Who Don’t Get Celebrated’

When asked what his goal was for founding Sundance, Robert Redford’s answer was brief, and to-the-point:

“The goal for me was very simple: to celebrate people who don’t get celebrated, who are ignored or undiscovered and who deserve to be discovered. When I started there were a few independent films out there, but they had no traction. There was no real category called independent film. Even if I’d been in the mainstream in my career I was always interested in the alternative point of view, in the idea of independence, not to be obligated to be this or that, to be free to be what you wanted to be.”

While the film industry has seen any number of independent productions, those present in the 1990s will recall a notable boom in the form. Big-budget “mainstream” films were no longer the only viable option at theaters, micro-budget movies started making enormous amounts of money, and more and more investors and distributors stepped in to help. This was the era when filmmakers like Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, and Michael Moore really made a name for themselves, and queer movies expanded greatly. The 1990s indie boom was due in large part to Redford’s actions. He wanted a “mechanism” in place to bring smaller films forward. He explained to Collider:

“I started the non-profit Sundance Institute to support independent filmmakers, to create a mechanism that would help develop their stories and skills. That led to the Sundance Festival, which is mostly focused on independent film.”

The 2023 Sundance Festival, meanwhile, will commence on January 19 and run for ten days. Its program, as in all years, will be extensive, and will feature scripted film, documentaries, midnight horror movies, and experimental shorts. It is a cinephile’s dream to attend.

Leave a Comment