Redford opens 'shoestring' Sundance film fest

PARK CITY: Robert Redford launched the annual Sundance film festival, vowing to stick to its modest, "shoestring" roots and reject the commercialism of Hollywood.

The "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" veteran actor, still sporting a full head of blond hair at 74, said nurturing new ideas had always been the aim of the festival -- and always would be with him at the helm.

"Keeping a shoestring idea of the festival has become our core. We may be getting bigger, larger, even more successful, but keeping that is part of us," he said at the start of the 10-day festival in the ski resort of Park City, Utah.

"We are doing it the same way we did 25 years ago. Nothing has changed in terms of the programming. We don't program by commerciality, we program for opportunity and for new fresh ideas and more independence in films," he added.

The 27th Sundance Film Festival opened aiming to defy the economic slowdown by screening a bigger-than-ever selection of independent movies from the United States and around the world.

Founded by Redford as a haven for independent film and an alternative to the Hollywood machine, the festival ironically now attracts huge interest from the commercial industry's scouts, looking for new talent and ideas.

This year's festival will show nearly 120 films from 29 countries, including 95 world premieres and 40 films by first-time directors. A record number of films were submitted for Sundance, which has become the biggest movie festival in the United States.

As the screenings got underway, Redford traced the history of the festival, and said he wants it to help maintain a sense of community, which he said was disappearing in modern life.

"There is something that I always missed in my life, it's the end of the theater community, the end of live television. And I thought it would be nice to re-create a sense of community.

"The point simply has been to do whatever we can to create opportunities to new artists. That's been our pledge and it's still our pledge," he said.
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