Robert Redford says Artist Services program shows Sundance’s commitment to filmmakers

Robert Redford speaks to the press at the opening day press conference

By Steve Ramos (doddleNEWS)

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival comes to life on an unseasonably warm Thursday afternoon and true to form, Sundance Institute and Founder Robert Redford takes the stage at the Main Street’s Egyptian Theatre, alongside his colleagues Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper and Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam to give an overview of the upcoming ten days and talk about the state of Sundance and it’s relationship to the rest of the country and for that matter, the rest of the world.

Three key talking points sum up the current focus by Redford and his team — globalization, new technology and distribution — and it’s meeting the challenges of distribution that looks to help the Sundance Institute expand its pro-filmmaker mission and become an even bigger player in the specialty film community all year round.

Coming to life at this festival is the Artist Services program, described by Putnam as an “innovative self-distribution strategy available to filmmakers via key online portals including iTunes, Hulu and Netflix.”

“It’s really important to discover and develop the work od these independent artists and connect them to audiences given this new technology,” Putnam says. “It is an organic brand extension of our mission.”

Speaking later at a small round table interview at Main Street’s Bing Bar, Redford reemphasizes that Sundance does not profit from the Artist Services program and it exists as a choice to filmmakers who don’t receive an acquisition deal at or after the festival.

The Artist Services program is possible because of the success of the festival, Redford adds, and reflects the diverse and sizable audience that comes to Park City, Utah every year in search of diverse films.

“We’re not here for commerciality,” Redford says, before rising from the table. “We’re about diversity, to show what’s out there and to increase the audiences because they’re not getting the chance to see the diverse stuff.”

Redford’s afternoon appearance in the somewhat chaotic Bing Bar; filled with workers setting up the bar and preparing the brand lounge for its busy schedule of press days and celebrity photo shoots; is somewhat private. Later in the day, he fulfills another festival tradition and welcomes the general public to the festival’s first public showing, the U.S. Documentary competition title film, The Queen of Versailles, at the massive Eccles Theatre.

Catching a glimpse of Redford is what many people who come to Park City, both moviegoers and filmmakers, hope to accomplish sometime during the ten days. Redford, understanding his role as the face of Sundance, obliges.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival runs through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah.


About Steve Ramos

Steve Ramos is a national, award-winning journalist whose advocacy of independent and art cinema has made him one of America's leading critical voices. He has been writing and reviewing films for nineteen years; bringing the spotlight to various film artists like David Gordon Green, Phil Morrison and Tsai Ming-Liang. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, New York, Screen Daily, Boxoffice and indieWire among others. In 1997, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies awarded Ramos First Place in Film Criticism. Ramos directed, programmed and moderated a monthly film series for 92YTribeca in New York City and moderated for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.