5:55 a.m. and my phone buzzes. The text from Sarah Pearce reads 'Road to Sundance Open.' The annual Filmmakers Brunch was on and despite Friday's snow storm, a long-standing Festival tradition would be upheld in 2010. Held annually on the first Saturday of the Festival, the brunch is an opportunity for filmmakers to step outside of the inevitable commotion of opening weekend to catch their breath and connect with each other while hearing from Robert Redford in the setting that is home to all things Sundance. And this year proved no exception.
The snowy day outside made for a truly warm and inviting event inside the Sundance Resort's Rehearsal Hall. Filmmakers seemed relieved by the relaxed energy of the event, and happily shared their stories from the Festival's first days with fellow directors. Smiles, laughter, and the knowing nodding of heads filled the room.
During brunch, Festival Director John Cooper welcomed the group and acknowledged his team of programmers, including Trevor Groth, Shari Frilot, David Courier, John Nein, Kim Yutani, and Caroline Libresco, who Cooper said was in Park City, "running the Festival all by herself." Cooper introduced Institute program directors Michelle Satter (Feature Film Program), Cara Mertes (Documentary Film Program), Bird Runningwater (Native American and Indigenous Program), and Peter Golub (Film Music Program). Cooper closed his welcome with a wink, saying, "And now a man who needs no introduction, but has insisted that he have one … Robert Redford."
Redford welcomed the guests by reminding them that the filmmakers are the primary focus of the Festival, and that they always will be. His desire to launch Sundance Institute, he said, was sparked by his own frustrations of working within the studio system on his 1969 film Downhill Racer. Describing the 28-year evolution of the nonprofit Institute and its Sundance Film Festival, he said, "Sundance was never hatched from some big fat thought. It developed in a series of iterations." And speaking to the core purpose of the Institute and the Festival, Redford said, "I thought we would focus on the more human side of filmmaking, and that's the storytelling."