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Redford worried Sundance at ‘breaking point’

Founder believes that merchants, celebrity and hype are hurting festival
/ Source: The Associated Press

Robert Redford says his Sundance Film Festival, which last month wrapped its 25th season, is “almost to a breaking point.”

“It’s gotten to the point now — almost to a breaking point — where there’s a fever that has taken over the festival that creates an enormous amount of chaos and excitement and tension,” the 68-year-old actor said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It’s gotten a little bit harder on me.”

Though the festival has become a larger spectacle over the years, Redford has long refrained from criticism about the changed nature of Sundance.

He created the independent film festival in 1981 to bring attention to small-budget films and new talent. Redford named the festival, held annually in the snowy mountains of Utah, after his breakthrough role in 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

“The festival that we do is the same one as we did the first year,” he said. “We program it exactly the same every year, which is for new voices and more experimental films.”

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The difference now, Redford said, is everything surrounding it.

“Once the merchants come, then the celebrities come. Once they come, the paparazzi come. Once they come, fashion comes. So suddenly you’ve got a party ... where Paris Hilton’s there and all the attention goes there and she’s got nothing to do with anything.”

“You’ve basically got two festivals going,” he said. “You’ve got the festival we programmed, which stays the same, and then the other one.”

The big-screen life of the festival, Redford said, continues to thrive. He felt “very good” about this year’s crop of films, which included the Hispanic teen drama “Quinceanera” and “Iraq in Fragments,” a documentary about the lives of Iraqis under U.S. occupation.

“Quinceanera” won both the festival’s jury prize and audience award; “Iraq in Fragments” won three prizes including documentary film editing, directing and cinematography awards.