PARK CITY, Utah — The Sundance Film Festival kicked off on Thursday, and, for only the second time in the festival's 37-year history, its founder, Robert Redford, is appearing in a participating movie.
Redford co-stars in A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of Bill Bryson's 1998 nonfiction book about walking the Appalachian Trail, which will be featured in the festival's Premieres section. The last time Redford, now 78, appeared in a Sundance movie was in 2004 with The Clearing.
At Sundance's first-day press conference with its programmers, John Cooper and Keri Putnam, and Redford, the actor-director-producer wanted to make it clear right away that he did not use his pull to get A Walk in the Woods into the festival.
"It is weird," said Redford, who usually joins the press conference to take questions and assess the state of the festival and independent film, among other things. "Very weird."
He said that Cooper "went out of bounds" to program A Walk in the Woods, which was directed by Ken Kwapis and also stars Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, and Nick Offerman. The movie will be seeking distribution at the festival, as many other films will be.
After saying that he has had "sad" experiences with films that got "no distribution or poor distribution," Redford also said the bidding model needs to be a "topic," and one that includes filmmakers.