Robert Redford is happy to talk about diversity – just not the Oscars.
The Sundance Film Festival kicked off Thursday in Park City, Utah, with a press conference, during which institute founder and president Redford spoke on a variety of topics, including diversity.
But when reporters urged the veteran actor to weigh in on the #Oscarsowhite controversy, he made it clear he didn’t want to get involved.
“I’m not into the Oscars. I’m not into that,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“What I mean is that I’m not focused on that part of it. To me it’s about the work,” he continued. “Whatever reward comes from that is great, but I don’t think about it. Because there is nothing more important or exciting than the work when you are doing it. Once that work is done, I back off, whatever comes from that is fine, but it’s nothing that occupies my thinking.”
Instead, Redford focused on diversity within the Sundance Film Festival, saying it’s always been part of the independent-film culture.
“Diversity comes out of the word independence,” said Redford. “If you’re independent-minded, you’re going to do things different from the common form, then you’re going to have more diverse products. That’s something I think we’re generally pretty proud of, is how we show diversity in the festival because we think it’s important.”
He said the indie-film industry’s solution to diversity problems is addressing them through films.
“When we have these issues that come up, we don’t bring them up, we just bring a spotlight on the artists who bring them up,” he said. “The artists are making films about what’s on the public mind.”
Redford pointed out that there was an emphasis on making sure both women and younger filmmakers were fairly represented at this year’s festival.
But he acknowledged that even though he’s deeply invested in independent films, he’s certainly not against the mainstream film industry.
“There’s always a tendency, it seems, to label things and speak out against things, but I want to make it clear that I’m not against the mainstream,” he explained, adding that independent films are “meant to broaden the film industry … give audiences more choices.”
The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 21-31.