Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Brian Stelter, Brian interviewed Robert Redford, actor and founder of the Sundance Film Festival, about the festival in Park City, Utah.
A transcript of the interview is available after the jump.
STELTER: Welcome back. If you were watching the show last week, you know I was in Park City, Utah, for Sundance Film Festival. Before I left, I had the chance to sit down with Robert Redford, the founder of the festival, who’s now executive producing two television series here for CNN. There were a lot of highlights and I wanted to show a couple today, including his thoughts on this year’s festival and his views of President Obama.
STELTER: Bob, thanks for joining me.
REDFORD: It’s my pleasure.
STELTER: What are the films you see at Sundance every year that are your favorites?
Are they the more timely ones, the ones that are about current affairs like Syria, for example?
REDFORD: No, I think the value for me with the films is when I see evidence of innovation; I see new ways of telling stories, whether it’s cinematographically, whether it’s using the camera in a different way…
STELTER: You haven’t seen everything by now?
REDFORD: No. There’s no way I could see everything. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the frustrations of being here at a festival that I started back in 1985, when we had one theater and we had maybe 25 or 30 films, maybe two or three documentaries, and just a few people wandering around the streets, and no real support for it because it was in the winter; it was in Utah; it was a whole lot of things.
And so, as this thing has grown, it’s grown substantially, and as it’s grown, we’re able to, kind of, grow with it and increase distribution, but mostly innovation. You see different ways of telling stories. And they keep multiplying each year. And to me, that’s really exciting.
STELTER: Sometimes it seems like you flirt with the notion of retiring from the festival. Do you come here and get reinvigorated or do you come here and think maybe it’s time that I step aside?
REDFORD: Well, I think there are certain things I should probably step aside from because I think there’s enough talent in place where they don’t need me. It’s enough that I maybe started something or created the chance for them to do it, so it doesn’t need me. I just get it over to them and let them do their work.
STELTER: I’m sorry to say I missed Sundance last year because I was trying to go to the inauguration, the second inauguration for President Obama.
REDFORD: Were you? Well, a lot of people left here to go there.
STELTER: Did they?
REDFORD: Yeah, yeah.
STELTER: I wonder how you feel now that it’s been a year into his second term. You’ve been such a big supporter of his. How do you feel he’s doing?
REDFORD: Well, first of all, I think he’s a good human being. That’s, I think, clear. He’s a humanitarian at heart, and that’s good. He’s trying to manage an extremely difficult situation. I mean, it’s — it’s almost too much for one person. But when you have a system that’s supposed to serve the public good by being bipartisan — because that’s the point of it all. Bipartisanship was meant to serve the public good.
When you have one half whose only motive is to destroy the motives of the president of the United States, then you have a diseased system. And I don’t think that’s his fault. I think it just makes his job tougher.
STELTER: It sounds like you see disease when you look at Washington politics.
REDFORD: I do. I see disease in — inside the Beltway. But, you know, while you’re on it, we — we spoke a while back on “All the President’s Men Revisited.” There’s a moment in that film I’d like to point out that illustrates my point, which is remember the hearings, the Watergate hearings? And we have some archival footage in there where you had the panel, Sam Ervin, Sam (inaudible) — you had all these guys, and you have the senator from Tennessee, and he was conservative; he was a republican. You had Republicans and Democrats on this panel. And what you got out of it was how hard all of them were working together to get to the truth of something.
And I thought, I’m seeing something we don’t see today, bipartisanship, working together to get to the truth for the public good.
STELTER: Are there particular disappointments you feel in President Obama after the first year of his second term?
I ask because we had that big letter come out from 18 environmental groups that were breaking from the president recently and saying they didn’t support his current strategy toward environmental…
REDFORD: Well, obviously I’m prejudiced. If there’s a prejudice, it’s pretty clear. I favor the environment. I don’t know how you can — I don’t know how a person could bring a child into the world without thinking about what we’re going to give them that should be preserved or give them so they have something to work with.
And I think some of the industries of old that made this country strong and great have now turned the other way; they don’t serve us anymore because there’s new technologies that are cleaner and, if they were used, would be a better country for our young people to step into. And yet you have the powers that be running the show. And then there you have it, same old same old. And to me, that’s unhealthy.
But I think, for Obama, I think he can’t do what he — if he can’t get bipartisanship to work with, then that’s a tough one.
In terms of the environment, I’m very, very pro the environment, obviously. And I think, if you have somebody that has to balance both sides of the equation and one of the sides is gas and oil, coal, which I think are destructive to the environment, but they have to be balanced because of all the money they bring into the political equation, you’ve got a difficult row to hoe. And I think that’s the row he’s trying to hoe, and I think that’s tough.
STELTER: Can I ask you one wonky last question?
STELTER: Because we’re both into journalism? Well, I wonder what you think of the media’s coverage of climate change. Do you feel it’s the kind of topic where they’ve failed, in general, to educate the public?
NEWMAN: I do. I think it’s now finally dawning on people that we’re — it is an issue because it’s now in our backyard. It’s not something that’s out there or tomorrow, it’s here and it’s now and it’s happening. It’s affecting water.
Look at the weather patterns. They’re so drastic. It’s pretty — you have to be — you have to be really the most narrow-minded person in the world to still deny climate change.
But it’s here and it’s already showing evidence of destruction.
The real question is, is it too late?
And because I like to be optimistic about it and I like to think that people, if they really thought strong about the environment, they would realize that it’s almost too late, there’s something we can do.
I think the media has fallen short, in large. And I think certain parts of the media have been good. But I think in total, the media has missed the bet by not getting on board earlier to tell the stories of the clear evidence already in place about the dangers we’re now facing. I think they missed the bet on that. They’re coming in late to the game.