May 22, 2018 / 9:41 AM

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Robert Redford On #MeToo Movement: ‘The Role For Men Right Now Is To Listen’



The Sundance Film Festival has undertaken a new code of conduct in the wake of #MeToo, with founder Robert Redford leading the charge.

This year's event kicked off Thursday, Jan. 18, in Park City, Utah, with an hour-long, free-flowing press conference during which Sundance Institute founder Redford spoke eloquently about #MeToo, Time's Up, and the need for immediate and pervasive change throughout the industry.

"[W]omen will have a stronger voice. They didn't have it before. Too much control by the male dominance. Now I think it's going to be more even-handed." Redford said women being able to come forward and speak out is a "really wonderful thing. But what about the men — what's their role amid this much-needed reckoning?

"I think the role for men is to listen, let women's voices be heard, and think about it," Redford said.

During the press conference, Redford, along with Sundance director John Cooper, and Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam, were questioned about the current rash of sexual assault allegations in Hollywood.

In particular, they were asked about Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced cofounder of Miramax and the Weinstein Co., whose presence at Sundance was usually a given. The festival was also where many of his most heinous attacks on women allegedly took place.

Putnam said the trio were "sickened" to hear about Weinstein, but that Sundance, as an institution, never "contributed" to his behavior, and that they were unaware of it having happened at the festival.

"We have long-standing values of respect and tolerance. We support artists. We stand for diversity and creativity - a lot of things that are in direct opposition to that kind of behavior," she said.

Redford praised #MeToo and Time's Up for creating a "tipping point" in the industry, the knock-on effect of which, he believes, will create more opportunities for women in Hollywood. Redford said he was "pretty encouraged" by everything that's happening currently.

"It's about more than a few individual men. It's about the underlying systems of power," Putnam explained.

The key point in the discussion came with the announcement of a brand-new code of conduct for Sundance going forward. The code has been put in place to ensure all patrons of the event will be able to enjoy it free of any "harassment, discrimination, sexism, and threatening or disrespectful behavior." There is also a hotline, in conjunction with the Utah attorney general's office, for reporting any incidents that may occur during its run. 

As for whether Weinstein's sizeable wallet will be missed this year, considering he was one of the largest and most prolific buyers at previous Sundance festivals, Cooper remarked that he wasn't "that big of a deal" at the past few events. Redford said they're working to move past Weinstein and that his absence won't "stop the show."

Sundance will also work harder to support and include more female filmmakers, with Putnam noting that 32 percent of this year's entries were directed by women, and 32 percent are from directors of color.

The festival has been working directly with Women In Film and University of Southern California to try to break down the barriers women face in getting their films made, or their voices heard, in the industry. The ReFrame project was formed for exactly this purpose, so they can approach networks and studios and demand change. 

Sundance runs from Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.

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