Way back in 2012, when the promise of America seemed bright and the boundless horizons of possibility glimmered in Euclidean perfection, some guy whose independent film didn’t get accepted by Sundance sued the festival. He alleged it had gotten so large that it was essentially committing fraud by claiming to evaluate every film submitted, when the “unmanageable volume of films received” made the whole endeavor unfeasible. Well, it’s four years later, and while that lawsuit may not have succeeded, replace “films” with “people” in the above quote, and you’ll get a sense of what Robert Redford thinks of his film festival baby these days. Namely, that it’s gotten too damn big.
In a new Associated Press interview running on USA Today’s website, the actor-director admits that with the crush of paparazzi and media in recent years, the original mission of the independent festival may be lost at sea, a situation he knows a little something about. “I’m starting to hear some negative comments about how crowded it is,” Redford says, demonstrating again why critics often praise his understated performances. “Fashion houses came, and suddenly this whole thing is going haywire,” he admits, as the video boldly chooses to undercut his claim by showing scenes of sparsely populated streets. “Do we risk being the heart and soul that we were when we started, against the odds…do we stop it? Or do we say, ‘Well, if we want to keep it going, we can’t keep it going the way things are?’” Redford goes on to suggest options like not doing it all in 10 days, though he admits this is just casting about for solutions to a thorny problem. Presumably, he just wants to get back to the darkened room where he watches every film submitted to Sundance, a living testament to its commitment to not just screening movies starring Johnny Depp’s daughter.