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Robert Redford's Political Action Cinema; Revisits Watergate and Weather Underground

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by Anthony Kaufman
April 3, 2012 9:34 AM
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Robert Redford is revving up his activist pursuits with a spate of political-minded projects, from "The Company You Keep," his political thriller starring Shia LaBeouf, which could premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, to a new slate of TV projects, including "All the President's Men Revisited," a 2-hour documentary for the Discovery Channel about the Watergate scandal to be directed by Peter Schnall.

The documentary, it was announced yesterday, is the first in a series of productions for Redford's new TV and multimedia company, Sundance Productions. In a BBC interview from a few days ago, Redford spoke candidly about film, the press and politics, saying documentaries have replaced newspapers--which he called in "steep decline"--as the media's main source of investigative journalism. "That's why documentaries have become so important," he told the BBC. "They are probably a better form of truth."

Still, Redford appears to be raising awareness for critical issues of freedom and democracy with narrative cinema. "The Company You Keep" chronicles the story of a former Weather Underground militant who must go on the run when his true identity is exposed by a young, ambitious reporter. In previous reports, producer Nicolas Chartier called the film "an edge-of-your-seat thriller about real Americans who stood for their beliefs, thinking they were patriots and defending their country's ideals against their government."

But Redford remains skeptical that films can affect meaninful change.

"Can film change anything? No. Maybe just fashion," he told the BBC. "We delude ourselves if we think film is going to change a whole system or change a whole government."

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