Sundance Film Festival
Robert Redford at Sundance 12 press conference in Park City, Utah.
Richard Gere
Richard Gere stars as a hedge-fund manager in ‘Arbitrage’.

Richard Gere, who stars as a hedge-fund manager (Arbitrage), Bruce Willis, as a sports gambler (Lay the Favorite) and writer/director Spike Lee are just a few of the stars expected to attend the 12th edition of Sundance, the hugely successful indie film festival.

Robert Redford, whose idea for the festival originated in the “labs” in the 1980s, kicked off the 10-day event at a casual press conference today in Park City, Utah.

Sundance Film Festival
Robert Redford at Sundance 12 press conference in Park City, Utah.

“It’s no secret times are grim,” Redford, looking relaxed in jeans and brown sleeveless jacket, told an assembled group of media, film writers, and industry press. But, on the bright side, he told us, artists will be not hold back here at Park City, in exhibiting a sense of “place” with their content.

If it ain’t broke…

Those familiar with the festival and its structure will feel right at home with this year’s edition. Although there has been minor tweaks (such as adding more music-related events), the format is, for the most part, the same.

“Success has two sides to it. When you get successful a whole of people want to leverage the festival. That’s just the way it is,” said Redford, referencing ambush marketing – those who attend to leverage their own mission. “Our mission has remained the same since the┬ábeginning, and that is to create a platform for independent artists to show-off their work.”

“The independent film community is healthy,” said John Cooper, programming director. “They [filmmakers] bring unique perspectives on the world we live in. There are no themes. Independent film is the theme.”

Of 4,000 films submitted, approximately 180 were selected for screening.

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 19-29, 2012.

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.