A journalist asks Robert Redford, “With recent resignations of several CEOs including Apple’s Steve Jobs, do you have plans of stepping down as the President of the Sundance Institute now that you have John Cooper and Keri Putnam in strategic positions to take the organization forward?” Silence filled the room! Priceless was John Cooper’s non-verbal reaction that broke the ice while still in disbelief of the question. He quickly responded with playful sarcasm, “Who ARE You?” Yikes! The question was indeed bold!
Robert Redford eloquently eased his way into answering the journalist by using his professional skills to play on the tense atmosphere. He was enjoying the uncomfortable atmosphere in the room and was in control. Redford responds, “You just gave me a great idea!” Everyone laughed and relieved to do so. Redford added, “No, I’m not going to retire. I am going to die here in this job.” He does recall once again the long journey he has made and acknowledges that there were a couple of times he wasn’t sure if they would make it but he is so proud of the people he has worked with over the years to get to where they are today with a successful Film Festival and Institute. He admonishes hard working people and in closing Redford says, “Hard work pays off. I am so proud of the accomplishments that the festival and institute has made over the years. It would not happen without the John Coopers that have come on board over the years. He’s been a part of the festival and the institute labs and programs for years and came through the ranks. He’s knowledgeable, funny, has great taste, and a wonderful sense of humor. The developments happen because of people like him who have been a part of the growth. To these people I am very grateful.”