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Robert Redford Says He Has Followed Murdoch Evidence 'With Fascination'

Robert Redford Sundance London - H 2012
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The star, in London for his inaugural Sundance London film and music festival, also says the U.S. government should acknowledge the contributions of the arts more.

LONDON -- Robert Redford said here Thursday that he has been watching "with interest" the unfolding drama at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, which this week questioned News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and son James Murdoch.

He said he was impressed with the "dignity" the participants are showing and thinks the U.S. should do a lot more to acknowledge the contribution of the arts to society.

Redford, in the British capital to launch and host the inaugural Sundance London movie and music festival, which kicks off later on Thursday, said he had caught a few hours of the Leveson coverage and had been struck with the pace and style of the inquiry.

"I've been watching it with fascination," he said. "As I watched the proceedings I've been very impressed by the dignity and the way people take their time speaking and put a lot of thought it into it." Added Redford: "In my country, things are so speeded up and so much noise is created and surrounded by personality and opinions so quickly. It becomes so hard to find the truth in that."

Redford, who famously portrayed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward working to uncover the Watergate scandal, said he felt journalism in the U.S. had been on the decline "because of the increase in personality."

In a lively exchange in a busy movie theater in the heart of London's sprawling O2 arena, Redford also said his homeland needed to do more for the arts, independent cinema and funding. "It should all start with better acknowledgement of the huge role the arts play. It should certainly be a part of conversation there," he said.

Redford said he wanted to bring his Sundance Film Festival to the British capital after being invited by hosts AEG and the desire to see if the ethos of pushing Sundance's independent philosophy of promoting audience and artists and independent cinema internationally would work.

The inaugural Sundance London film and music festival has already secured a Royal seal of approval with Prince Charles signing up to introduce the global theatrical premiere of Harmony: A New Way of Looking At Our World. Redford said he spoke to Prince Charles last year as they both share a common interest in promoting environmental issues and conservation. They will join on stage ahead of the screening on Saturday at the O2 Arena.

The Royal premiere is among several special events programmed for Sundance London which goes as heavy on music events as it does on the 14 U.S. movies hand-picked from across Sundance's January 2012 lineup.

Redford said music is getting as big a play as film as the British event plays to Sundance's love of uniting things that were considered separate before. "One of the things we try to do is to look ahead and see the future will be a hybrid of music and film. There's no doubt the two are important to one another," he said.

Planned music events at Sundance London include an intimate performance by Rufus and Martha Wainwright following the world premiere of Lian Lunson’s film about the music of their mother and the debut theatrical screening of Coming Up For Air, a  documentary about rockers Placebo.

Sundance London takes place through Sunday and opens with an on-stage discussion between Redford, 12-time Grammy Award winner T Bone Burnett, Oscar-winner Glen Hansard and the U.K. psychedelic pop band Guillemots.