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The Redfords: A Dynamic Duo
by Karen Pecota

To embrace the Sundance Institute philosophy, Independent film artists, Mr. Robert Redford & Mrs. Sibylle Szaggars-Redford were able to share their unique artistry with the 2015 festival attendees. This year the Redford dynamic duo (Robert and Sibylle) had presence. And, rightly so! As artists and mentors.

The Redfords were able to naturally weave in and out of the context of the festival and display their expertise but remain in the background. A comfortable platform for the two. I imagined similar to proud parents. Showing their children how it's done and then sit back and watch what transpires. With contentment and joy.

Robert Redford enjoys time spent with featured filmmakers at the festival year after year and on occasion will be seen around town. His preference is to be incognito or "behind the scenes" during the festival hubbub. It's important to Redford that the focus of the festival shine primarily on the featured filmmakers, their work and other artists. It is not in his nature to take any lime-light away from these people. The festival is for the artists. It's an opportunity to showcase their wares.

Robert Redford (Founder of the Sundance Institute, the film festival and its organization) opened the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to the journalists at the official festival opening press conference. Hours prior to the opening films shown at the 2015 festival. Accompanying Redford was the festival director, John Cooper and the Sundance Institute director, Keri Putnam. All three shared the spotlight to give an overview of the festival and Redford took the role of storyteller to unfold the Sundance Film Festival story. Reminiscing fondly, embracing new stories to tell.

Sibylle Szaggars Redford, a German-born watercolorist and multimedia artist showcased as creative director, The Way of the Rain. Two performances were held at The Complex in Salt Lake City--a forty minute drive down the mountain from the Festival Hub in Park City, Utah. The live performances were a collaboration of her environmental art with other professional artists, including her husband, Robert Redford, reading excerpts from Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Sibylle welcomed the audience to enjoy, "An eternal world of music, color, dance, space, light and texture."

Sibylle's inspiration for the performance came from watching the yearly monsoon rain showers on the high desert from her studio in Northern New Mexico. She described the unusual rain showers of beauty that over took the Native American land and national forest, to be one of the most incredible visual events experienced. She adds, "It was then that my idea to combine these heavenly showers with my art was born."

The Way of the Rain explores the issue of climate change resulting in rapidly changing weather patterns. Sibylle's message is to illustrate through performance art the crucial environmental dilemmas. And, that she did with excellence!

Robert Redford shared the spotlight with famed actor Nick Nolte representing their feature film A Walk in the Woods. (See film review). I was privileged to participate in a round-table discussion with the main principles of the film: actors, Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, Bill Bryson (author of travel book A Walk in the Woods the film is based on), director Ken Kwapis and screenwriter Bill Holderman. (Please see The Round-Table Discussion for A Walk in the Woods).

During the Round-Table discussion I was impressed with how relaxed Redford, Nolte, Bryson, Kwapis and Holderman were with those sitting at the table. We (the journalists) brought questions to the table but they brought the color of story and how film with old friends can be refreshing and enjoyable. Redford was able to share about his humble beginnings as a starving artist and Nolte shared similar stories when he lived in Mexico that propelled his career to where he is today. Bryson gave his impressions of the enormous task to make his real-life story into a film. Kwapis and Holderman recalled the challenges of filming on a famous trekking trail that required the use of camels to carry equipment to locations. A lot of fun information in a short amount of time. Delightfully intimate. Touching and personal. It was a privilege to participate in another performance of the Redford dynamic duo. There will always be something to learn from them and their people.