Sundance in New Mexico to work on filmmaking
By DEBORAH BAKER, Associated Press Writer
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP): Actor and director Robert Redford will collaborate with the state of New Mexico to expand training opportunities for Native American and Latino filmmakers.
``Sundance in New Mexico'' was announced Thursday by Gov. Bill Richardson and Redford, who said the project grew out of his long-standing love for the state, where he made ``The Milagro Beanfield War'' in 1988.
Redford's Sundance Institute in Utah will work with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New Mexico Film Office to develop programs in film, arts and the environment.
The project will be based at Los Luceros, the historic, state-owned hacienda and complex of buildings along the Rio Grande north of Española.
The lab program at Sundance that provides hands-on training for aspiring Native American filmmakers will be moved to New Mexico ``because I think this is a more appropriate place to have it,'' Redford said.
Eventually, those could be followed by programs aimed at Latino and Native American producers and writers, and by environmental programs as well, he said.
``The negative part of me is, I'm impatient ... I've had to learn the hard way over time that you have to do just one step at a time,'' the actor said at a news conference in the governor's office.
Redford said he was disappointed in the failure of two of his earlier ventures, a project 30 years ago to get movie cameras into the hands of Indian children and a more recent dream to make a series of New Mexico-based films from the books of mystery writer Tony Hillerman.
``Sundance in New Mexico'' is a new opportunity to work in that vein, he said.
``It has a lot to do with the changes in the world around us, the fact that there's change that's in the air right now ... and the positive has to do with arts and culture,'' he said.
Redford was executive producer of the Spanish-language film, ``The Motorcycle Diaries,'' which recounted the journey through South America of a youthful Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara, who became a famed Latin revolutionary.
He said his interest in Latino culture dates to growing up in one of the few Anglo households in a Latino, working-class neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The new collaboration will kick off with a series of events, the first of them a panel discussion this Saturday in Santa Fe on the links between oral tradition and filmmaking.
It will feature director John Sayles, filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, who is Creek and Seminole, and documentary filmmaker Merata Mita, who is Maori.
Kathleen Broyles, program coordinator for feature films at Sundance Institute and Redford's liaison in New Mexico, described the New Mexico project as a ``sister program'' and said it was the first such arrangement for Sundance.
``This is brand new,'' she said.
Lisa Strout, director of the state film office, said the collaboration will expand training opportunities for Indian and Latino filmmakers who already are participating in state-sponsored programs.
The collaboration—which Richardson described as ``evolving''—is estimated to cost the state at least $80,000 a year initially. Richardson said he would likely have to secure funding beyond that as the program grew—for example, if it were decided to build ``eco-lodges'' on the Los Luceros grounds for program participants.
Redford said art can drive the economy, citing as an example his Sundance Film Festival, which he said started on a shoestring and pumps millions of dollars into the state's coffers annually.
``It's been very frustrating to me to see art constantly categorized at the end of the train, as the caboose, as something that's elitist or extremely leftist ... always pushed into the nonprofit zone,'' he said.
``That to me is an old saw that needs to be changed.''