Park City • Robert Redford had an idea for a big opening for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s opening night.
Noting that this is the 30th year Sundance has been running the festival, the actor-director told the audience Thursday night at Park City’s Eccles Theatre that he asked his team " ‘How about we roll, a big cake out on the stage and I jump out of it?’ "
"That got shot down pretty fast," Redford quipped wryly.
Instead, the festival audience gave Redford a surprise: A sustained standing ovation when Redford, without any introduction, took the Eccles podium.
The ovation was the Sundance audience’s show of appreciation for Redford’s performance in the one-man drama "All Is Lost" — a role for which Redford had been talked about for an Academy Award, but was snubbed when Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning.
"I can’t tell you how much that warm welcome means to me," Redford told the audience.
Redford then got a little nostalgic about the early years, when his nonprofit Sundance Institute took over operations of the U.S. Film Festival.
"I wasn’t sure whether it was going to last," Redford said. "I said, ‘Three years from now, we might not be here.’ Now, 30 years later, here we are."
Nearly two hours later, the audience gave loud applause to the first movie on the Eccles screen: "Whiplash," an intense drama about a college drummer (Miles Teller) striving for greatness and butting heads with an abusive bandleader (J.K. Simmons).
Writer-director Damien Chazelle came to Sundance last year with a short film called "Whiplash," starring Simmons in the same role, and festival director John Cooper called it "the fastest turnaround from short to feature" Sundance has ever seen.
"Without Sundance, this movie wouldn’t have happened in the first place," Chazelle said, adding that exposure of the short drew interest in making a feature-length version of the story.
Earlier in the day, in a press conference to open the festival, Redford led off by talking about the Oscar omission — and clarified to industry naysayers what the festival is and isn’t.Next Page »