Actor Robert Redford Monday said he was “disappointed” with criticism leveled at him and his Sundance Film Festival in a new book charting the rise of independent movies, but shrugged off any harsh reaction of his own saying the festival’s success speaks for itself.
Sundance, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is the premier film festival and market for independent movies in the United States. Redford’s Sundance Institute for film is its primary backer, and the actor is given much credit for helping make the festival a hit.
With popularity have come Hollywood stars, corporations selling products and massive crowds to this mountain town east of Salt Lake City where the event is held. Last year’s festival was attended by some 38,000 people.
In “Down and Dirty Pictures,” author Peter Biskind writes that Redford was “notorious for keeping people waiting, breaking appointments and failing to follow through on commitments,” and adds “judged by one of its original, loftier goals, an institute to help outsiders, Sundance has failed.”
The book has been among the most talked about subjects in theaters, at parties and on the snowy sidewalks. At the Jan. 15 opening night, Redford even joked he could be found at a local book store signing books.
Talking to reporters for his new film “The Clearing,” which debuted Sunday and hits theaters nationwide this coming May, Redford took a less comic and even-measured tone when talking about the book.
“You’re only human. You have to be disappointed, but you also know that there’s an impotence to your position ... there’s nothing you can do about it. So you just live with it and move on,” Redford said.
He noted the author, Peter Biskind, had written about him and Sundance once before in an unflattering light when Biskind was a writer for Premiere Magazine, and added that the success of Sundance is the festival’s own best defense.
“I’m pretty well okay with the fact that I think Sundance is not going to be stopped by that kind of stuff,” he said. ”The results are here. After 20 years, they speak for themselves.”
Film deals“’The Clearing”’ marks the first time Redford has appeared in a film that played at the festival. He executive produced ”The Motorcycle Diaries,” which was directed by Walter Salles and was adapted from the journals of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and was among the first acquisitions here. It will be distributed by Focus Features, the specialty unit for Universal Pictures.
Romantic comedy “Garden State” was picked up in a rare, joint deal by Miramax Films and Fox Searchlight who paid around $4 million for distribution rights, industry sources said.
A Miramax spokesman confirmed the deal, but declined to discuss the terms.
Lions Gate Films acquired “Open Water,” a thriller about two divers left behind by their boat in an ocean filled with sharks, for what sources said was over $2 million.
Tom Ortenberg, who heads film releasing for Lions Gate called it “’Blair Witch Project’ meets ’Jaws,”’ and said it will likely hit theaters this summer in a wide release.
“Riding Giants,” the big wave surf film co-funded by surfing company Quiksilver as part of its efforts to broaden the sport’s popularity, was bought by Sony Pictures Classics.
The festival ends on Sunday, Jan. 25.