One of the hottest tickets of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival was, oddly enough, a panel discussion. But it wasn’t just any panel discussion. Titled Power of Story: Visions of Independence, this conversation was to be between film legends George Lucas (of Star Wars fame) and Oscar-winning filmmaker and Sundance founder Robert Redford. The talk Thursday night was hosted by film historian Leonard Malti, and took place in the intimate environs of the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre (capacity: 266).
Redford, who just might be the best-looking 78-year-old on the planet, regaled the packed house with stories of losing respect for the studio system, making Jeremiah Johnson, and the night he was arrested on a road trip to Ames, Iowa, with a car packed with friends and booze. They were tossed in the drunk tank and, in their inebriated state, proceeded to belt out an array of prison-themed songs, which so enraged the guards that they gave the group an extra night.
Since the event was hosted by the woefully out-of-touch Maltin, the most interesting question came during the Q&A portion of the evening. Redford was asked:
What are your views on diversity in cinema? Particularly women’s voices and women in the industry?
This is timely for many reasons, among them the series of excellent pieces by New York Times critic Manohla Dargis on the plight of female filmmakers in Hollywood and the disturbing news that no women were nominated for directing or screenwriting Oscars this year. Redford, however, said he feels that “women and young people” are the future of film.
“Well, diversity is the name of game, as far as I’m concerned,” Redford said. “Independence and diversity go hand-in-hand, in my mind.”He then paused. “I think the future—and this is just my opinion—but for us to move out of where we are now, and to move to something more sustainable and exciting, I think it will be in the hands of women and young people. With the young people that are coming on today, we’ve messed up what we’re handing them in terms of a planet, and they have less to work with than they would have years ago, but young people today are really, really smart. What I saw a few years ago was that young people were disenchanted with the system to where they didn’t want to get into politics and didn’t want anything to do with it. I think that’s changed. Now young people want to be given the reins. Women, because of their nurturing sensibilities, are also the way to go. If you put those two things together, I think that’s our future.”