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Sundance: Redford Talks 'Too Many Festivals,' LA Times on Commercialism and Competition, Plus Oversupply of Film Students

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 18, 2013 at 12:37PM

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival kicked off January 18. Below, a roundup of coverage heading into the fest, and Robert Redford's opening remarks, during which he admitted that "there are probably too many festivals."
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Robert Redford at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival
Robert Redford at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival kicked off January 18. Below, a roundup of coverage heading into the fest, and Robert Redford's opening remarks, during which he admitted that "there are probably too many festivals."

Indiewire's Eric Kohn covers fest founder Robert Redford's thoughts on Sundance:

"I think there are probably too many festivals," Redford told a roundtable of journalists in Park City this afternoon. The actor said his interest in Sundance grew out of a frustration about the platforms available to films that interested him early in his career. "I started getting anxious about the stories that I wanted to tell," he said. "I realized over time that I was straddling two worlds and more and more happen with the smaller films. I wanted to extend that."

Since then, the prospects of film festivals highlighting work either outside of the mainstream or adjacent to it has expanded to such a great degree that, when asked if he might want to launch Sundance in the current environment, the response was instant: "Probably not," he said.

A highlight from Kenneth Turan's L.A. Times' Sundance preview:

This paper has noted that in the competition, fully half of the narrative features were made by women, while the New York Times claimed that the Utah festival, "known for championing dark and inscrutable films, has unveiled an unusually accessible — and sellable — competition lineup."

Cynics insist that Sundance has been contaminated by success and commercialism (and an independent study said last year's 10-day event brought $80 million to Utah). But no one can doubt the bar for filmmakers remains exceedingly high: This year's 119 feature-length films were selected from more than 4,000 submissions.

Guardian's David D'Arcy on Sundance, in which he looks at the "oversupply of films and [film] students," and picks 10 titles to seek out at the fest:

The problem, it turns out, is not supply, but demand. As the promise of independent film-making's fertility has been fulfilled, the audience for its progeny has not proved large enough to support more than a few dozen of these film-makers.

How will it support the thousands who, as part of the Sundance effect, are now studying film at universities all over the US? Even the staunchly Catholic Notre Dame University offers instruction in celluloid dreams. At the last count, there were several dozen schools in Florida where you could study film, and there are probably more now, all collecting tuition fees and providing lifetime tenure for "professors" who struggle to get their own films seen.

Calling the oversupply of films and students an imbalance is like saying that Michael Moore has opinions.

Scott Foundas on the Movies to Know and Changes at Sundance.

Actress/director Lake Bell on her Competition entry "In a World..."

This article is related to: News, Sundance Film Festival, News, Sundance


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.