It seems that popular film festivals are now the new celebrity party where you can obtain free swag, possibly free food, and freely show your assets to the cameras. And you can do all that while not even having a movie to showcase at the Sundance Film Festival. Paris Hilton's appearance at Sundance this year just proved that to Robert Redford's chagrin this week, hence bringing a debate about whether the festival's creator wants his event to coddle to stuffier shirts.
Of course, Redford is from a different era of Hollywood that respects the art of filmmaking and automatically assumes it still exists. If that's a clashing of two philosophies, it's clear Sundance and all film festivals are now a place to be seen rather than merely promote a movie. Or with Redford's still considerable power, is it really too late to delineate new rules for who can attend at Sundance?
There's nothing more fun than seeing the respected stars of yesteryear attempt to shut down the devolved ideas and show business philosophies of today's world. We've seen it done before, even if it sometimes breeds contention with notables of Generation X and Millennials who don't always know what they missed in an earlier era. We'd have to expect the same thing to happen at Sundance if Redford decides to outline new rules that keeps so-called celebrities such as Paris Hilton away.
But Sundance could potentially be hurt by these classier rules when the press lives for taking photographs of everybody who's anybody who shows up. When those pictures end up in the media, Sundance truly bursts alive rather than showcasing pictures of filmmakers most people don't know. It's the dilemma of commerce over art, which is a painful crossroads every artful person grapples with in a lifetime.
Nevertheless, Redford doesn't seem to worry about that any longer when the films showcased there still garner enough attention for those who care. Yet with so many entered films starting to cancel one another out, the films may not be enough to incite tourists to visit and make the festival more money. Star watching is what film festivals have turned into, which we can only hope equates to the power of more A-list stars being attracted to acting in independent film.
This year, the A-list star power at Sundance is arguably lessened from what it has been or during the prestige of Cannes. Should Redford decide to do anything, he should find ways to invite more A-list celebrities who care about film and to persuade them to cut their paychecks to act in more indie fare. We thought that was already happening to a degree, despite recent fluctuations due to an ailing world economy.
Going the above route is the ultimate compromise to bringing star power while still celebrating why everybody attends. Then again, it doesn't hurt to set aside a schmooze media tent for self-promoting celebrities attending Sundance for anything other than the art of movies. As revenge, Redford should send paid camera crews in there for interviews to grill those notables on the films playing at the festival.
Their likely apathetic response to film knowledge might be enough to scare them out of town from intimidation.