Saturday morning, as part of what Robert Redford likes to refer to as his favorite Festival tradition, all of the filmmakers boarded a caravan of buses to take them from Park City up the mountain pass to the Sundance Resort-the place "where everything began."
When Redford first realized the need for a safe, secluded space for artists to work away from the pressures of Hollywood and the rest of the world, he opened up his home at Sundance. That's where Sundance Institute's first Filmmakers Lab was born, and over the last thirty years has grown into year-round artist development programs that have expanded from feature filmmaking to documentary, film music, and theatre.
The Directors Brunch has become a special moment for filmmakers-only, a collective deep breath before everyone returns to the buzz of Park City to premiere their films. With the backdrop of a rustic ski lodge, firewood burning, falling snow brightening the windows of the reception hall, everyone cozily mingled, from returning filmmakers like Isabella Rossellini reuniting with old friends to first-timers like Cindy Meehl meeting the new class of 2011.
Redford addressed the group, telling the story of his listless beginnings-how he wasn't good at many things as a young man-but somehow his love for Greek mythology as a student wired his brain for a future as a storyteller. He recalled his trajectory from actor to producer to director, and then the studio system's road blocks he encountered along the way.
Redford was clearly offering his example as a warning, and an assurance that although difficulties may be at every turn there's hope in the end. Ultimately his message was not about the business of getting movies made and released, but about the core of what must drive filmmakers: a passion for storytelling.
"Perseverance is tied to storytelling more than anything else," Redford quietly urged the room of almost 200 filmmakers who will spend the next few days seeing years of labor on a big screen.