As the 50th anniversary of Sundance rolls into the hills of Park City, Utah, filmmakers not in attendance can rest easy. The festival's not going anywhere anytime soon. 

In a recent interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Robert Redford ensured that the Sundance Film Festival, and Sundance Institute, would be mainstays long after the 82-year-old actor and filmmaker joined the Academy in the sky.  

Redford assured the Tribune he's left both institutions to his children to run. 

“I’ve taken great pains over the years, from the time they were little, to bring them into the fore — letting them go their different ways as they were young and exploring their own paths...At some point, I felt, there’s going to become a time with whatever I’ve created here, I will not be able to sustain as the head of everything. I’ve been spending a lot of time bringing my children — Shauna and Amy and Jamie — into the picture, and now they’re there and they’re in a position to run the show.”

Redford’s youngest, Amy Redford, 47, is a filmmaker who was recently was named artist-in-residence at the Utah Film Center. Shauna, 57, is a painter and married to “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser. James Redford, 56, is a documentary filmmaker and chairman of The Redford Center, a San Francisco nonprofit that encourages filmmaking about environmental issues. 

His kids seem uniquely equipped to keep the spirit of the Sundance Film Festival going. And Redford knows that.  

“I feel I’m at a point where, beyond encouraging them, I can step not completely away, but step aside, so they can take the thing and run with it...Basically, they’re inheriting what I started, and they’re going to keep it going with my grandchildren.”


This is a great sign for those of us yet to attend the festival, but also great for the industry in general. Sundance has been corporatized in recent years, focusing on big distribution deals and less on independent film, but it's still a great place for new voices to find people. The Sundance Institute works with an array of people every year to try to help them achieve their dreams.   

Redford recently used the Sundance Institute to deliver this message about the future: 

"Tonight, for the first time I can remember, I feel out of place in the country I was born into and the citizenship I’ve loved my whole life. For weeks I’ve watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us, turning toward bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade.

How can we expect the next generation to step up and serve, to be interested in public life, and to aspire to get involved when all we show them is how to spar, attack, and destroy each other?

It’s hard to blame young people for calling us out and pointing to our conflicts between the values we declare, and those we stand behind only when it’s convenient to partisanship. Many people are rightly calling it a damn mess.

But I want to encourage you to dig deep for hope and civility right now—to try to make connections with people you disagree with, to be better than our politicians.

We don’t have to share the same motivations to want the same outcomes. Let’s focus on each other, and strengthening our communities, and reflecting on what’s happening. Let’s live in justice and respect and let others fight it out now to the bitter ends.

This is our country too. Every woman, man, and child in it, our American future.

We’ve got work to do."

Get excited about the Sundance Film Festival and the humanity and humility it fosters in tomorrow's voices. 

Here's to 50 years of Sundance. And 50 more...

For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the coverage of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.


No Film School's podcast and editorial coverage of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by RODE Microphones and Blackmagic Design.