Robert Redford the Sundance Kid shoots down a PM 'in trouble'

Robert Redford says PM has underestimated public appetite for innovative film-making

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The Independent Culture

Who would movie-goers rather trust behind the camera, David Cameron or Robert Redford?

The screen legend accused the Prime Minister of underestimating the public appetite for innovative films after Mr Cameron called on UK producers to focus their efforts on backing mainstream, potential hits.

Redford, 75, criticised Mr Cameron's "narrow" view of British film, when he launched Sundance London, the first foreign offshoot of his annual Utah showcase for independent cinema, credited with discovering directors including Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh.

Speaking at the O2 Arena, which will host a selection of films, discussions and musical performances during the four day event, the Sting star was asked if he agreed with Mr Cameron's recent appeal, before a visit to Pinewood studios, for UK producers to "try to support more commercially viable pictures".

"No," replied the Sundance Institute founder. "That may be why he's in trouble," joked Redford, referring to the Coalition’s recent difficulties.

He added: "I don’t want to say it speaks to the man but that view, I think, is a very narrow one, and doesn't speak to the broad category of film makers and artists in the business. And it doesn’t speak to audiences either."

Directors criticised the Prime Minister’s call for more money to be targeted at potential money-spinners like The King’s Speech, since it is notoriously difficult to predict box office hits.

Redford said Sundance had showcased a variety of British independent films from An Education, Carey Mulligan’s 2009 breakthrough, to Four Weddings And A Funeral.

He said: "I started in my career working in large Hollywood films but it didn’t satisfy the need I had for films which where more risky. When we started Sundance it was basically to enlarge the category of film to include those people that might be shut out by the mainstream thinking. There is a hunger for these kinds of film."

Redford will join the Prince of Wales at Sundance London on Saturday for the premiere of Harmony, a documentary narrated by Prince Charles, which sets out his plan for a sustainable future for the planet.

The film has been described as the Prince's version of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s campaigning film and features an interview with the former vice president.

Redford said he and the Prince had long shared a passion over the issue of environmental sustainability. “I met with him last Spring to discuss a the idea of how we could work that into our festival. It seemed like a natural fit that Sundance could support his film in his country.”

The actor also revealed he was opposed to including the hit song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which teamed him up with Paul Newman for the first time.

The song is used in a famous scene where Newman shares a bicycle with co-star Katherine Ross. Redford said: “The music played a huge role. I didn't see it at the time because I thought it was stupid.

"Suddenly there was a scene where the guy was singing Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and it isn't even raining and I thought 'Jesus, what?'. Well, how wrong was I?"

He warned against the technological advances of 3D and IMAX overshadowing the traditional craft of storytelling. ”I think technology has probably gotten a little too far, too fast,“ Redford said. "I'm not a particular fan of 3D at the moment. My feeling right now is probably things have gone too far, at some great cost by the way. Time will tell whether it really works or not, I’m not sure it will."

Sundance London highlights include a live performances from Rufus Wainwright and his sister Martha following the premiere of a documentary about their mother, the folk singer Kate McGarrigle, on Sunday.

Although offering only a selection of 14 films and 8 shorts, handpicked from the 2012 January Utah festival programme, Redford hopes that Sundance London will become an annual event.