All eyes in the film industry are on Sundance this year.
It’s the first major film festival since the #MeToo movement took off, and Sundance founder Robert Redford said he’s encouraged by the campaigns promoting gender equality.
“For women to step forward and exercise their voices more and more is a really wonderful thing,” the Oscar winner said at the film festival’s opening press conference Thursday.
“I think the role for men right now would be to listen.”
Redford and other Sundance organizers said they were “sickened” by the revelations that Harvey Weinstein had reportedly assaulted and harassed women at the festival.
They repeatedly distanced themselves from Weinstein, who’s attended Sundance in the past.
“Harvey Weinstein was a moment in time, and I think we’re going to move past that,” Redford said, adding that Weinstein would often come to Sundance to “cherry-pick” projects that he could get for cheap at the film festival, and later promote under his own name.
“We will move past that,” Redford repeated. “He’s not going to stop the show.”
After increased reports of sexual harassment in the film and media industries over the past several months, Sundance has updated its code of conduct for this festival and shared it publicly.
Festival organizers have also partnered the Utah Attorney General’s office and the Park City Police Department to launch a 24-hour sexual misconduct hotline.
“If there’s any incident or any attendee who wants to report something, that will be available for them,” said Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute.
“It’s a step we wanted to take to ensure the safety and comfort of all of our guests,” she said.
Sundance is also hosting several panels on the recent culture shift and diversity in filmmaking. One of the documentaries featured at Sundance, called Half the Picture, focuses on Hollywood’s gender problem, told from the perspective of female directors
This year, 38 percent of directors at the festival are women, and 32 percent are filmmakers of color, Putnam said.
“So, we have a really diverse festival this year,” but it’s “not where we need to be,” she said.
“We understand there’s more progress to go. We’re really proud of, as a festival, representing a really wide array of stories and storytellers.”
Tickets are on sale for Sundance screenings in Park City and Salt Lake City. The festival runs through Sunday, Jan. 28.