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The Elephant in the Room: Let's Talk
by Karen Pecota

The Sundance Film Festival 2014 opening press conference moves the elephant in the room to its proper place under the direction of opening press conference moderator, Sean P. Means, movie critic and journalist for The Salt Lake City Tribune. His appropriate introductions begin by presenting the three Sundance Amigos to the press audience: John Cooper, the director of the Sundance film festival; Kari Putnam, the director of the Sundance institute; and last but not least, Robert Redford, actor, director, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival and Institute.

Means begins with the statement to Redford, “Ok...let's get this out of the way...the elephant in the room. Let's talk.”  He asks, "In reference to the performance in your latest film All Is Lost, How do you feel about the nomination for a Golden Globe but no Oscar nomination?”

The personal dialogue follows to bring the audience one step closer to an understanding of the intricate process of filmmaking. Redford shares a personal experience that puts another piece of a complicated puzzle in place to explain the commercial part of the industry.

Robert Redford makes it clear that he doesn't want to talk about his golden globe or Oscar nomination if it gets in the way of why "we" are here—to discuss the current Sundance Film Festival. He felt if focusing on him took away from us celebrating the Independent films at the 2014 Sundance film Festival then he'd rather not talk about it...but, LOL! ...with that said...he begins to share from his heart.

“How do I feel about it? The film I made with JC Chandor is a film I am very proud of. It's an Independent film and belongs to "why we are here"—the Sundance Film Festival. The film itself was so stripped down of the elements that are in most films, i.e., the voice overs, dialogues, special effects, the extras, etc. This fact made it a purely cinematic experience.” He continues, “I love that!More than anything though it gave me a chance to act again. I went back to my roots. Back to where I started—my love for acting. I'm very happy about the film.”

Redford explains further, “The fact that the film did not cross-over into the mainstream is due to the commercial aspect of our industry. It's not so much about Hollywood. Hollywood is business and a very good one. I respect that! I have been a part of it, as well as, a part of the Hollywood industry for much of my career. I'm very happy about that. It is, what it is!”

Redford then continues his thought, “The commercial end of the industry is complicated and tricky. Each film is voted on according to what the studios can provide. The success of a film is dependent upon a campaign for distribution. It can get very political. That's ok! It's business! In our case, we suffered from little to no distribution. As a result, our distributors weren't able to aggressively cap on the product. I don't know what they were thinking. Either, they didn't want to spend the money; or, they were afraid or simply incapable of campaigning for distribution. Whatever the reason, we therefore, had no campaign to make the cross-over. I'm not upset by no Oscar nomination. It's a part of business. Do I think it wonderful to be nominated, of course!”

Redford notes that the film connects with his vision of the Sundance Film Festival. “I am so happy to participate in an Independent film that had presence in the mainstream film theaters. That is what is on my mind. The rest is not my business. I am fine...”

Sitting comfortably in the beautiful leather bound chair, Redford, the natural, gracefully shares with the people of the press his story, as if each of us were the only person in the room. Thank you, Mr. Redford for trusting us with your feelings and thoughts. Wow!