Robert Redford: Great Britain 'Has Better Support for Arts' Than the U.S.

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The actor, in London for the sophomore edition of the Sundance London film and music festival, also says he is a big fan of rock band the Eagles.

LONDON --  Robert Redford declared his love for iconic rock band the Eagles, who were due to fly into the British capital for an extended Q&A session following a showing of Alison Ellwood's documentary History of the Eagles Part One.

While he would have "loved" to see them perform live, Redford noted Wednesday that the band's inclusion in this year's Sundance London lineup was down to "a personal thing" for the Sundance founder.

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Redford also added that while Eagles' member Don Henley was a "close personal friend," he was particularly pleased that the group was traveling to the British capital-set event on their own dime.

Sundance festival director John Cooper told the gathered press at the event's opening news conference that he "liked the notion of them just talking" about their lives and careers. "They will talk about anything." 

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Redford, in England to launch and host the second outing of the Sundance London movie and music festival, which kicks off Wednesday, also voiced his concerns over funding for independent film in the U.S.

"When you have a country [the U.S.] with an extremely conservative body that sees money spent on movies and the arts as trivial, it's bad," Redford said. "Someone needs to step up and argue about the economic benefits. The arts can bring billions to the table, and there is an economic benefit."

He also reacted to a plea made Wednesday morning by the U.K. culture minister Maria Miller for organizations in the arts to help make an economic case against threatened funding cuts.

Redford noted: "It's my impression that Great Britain, and London in particular, has better support for arts than we [in the U.S.] do."

Redford said he brought his Sundance Film Festival back to British shores because he had been invited by hosts AEG and is driven by his desire to see if Sundance's independent philosophy of promoting audience and artists and independent cinema internationally works.

He also extolled his passion for independent documentary filmmaking, a genre that was the heart and soul of Sundance when it began to find its feet in the 1980s.

But when asked if he could change one thing for independent film by waving a magic wand, Redford's response was succinct and one which he repeated three times. "I don't have a magic wand."

He also said any conversations about taking Sundance on the road to more countries had stalled.

Cooper said there had been no conversations since last year on taking the show to other countries because it was impossible "to get everyone in the same room."

Said Cooper, smiling: "Sundance London is all about getting time with Bob [Redford]."

Upcoming events, aside from the Eagles Q&A, include a show by electro-pop provocateur Peaches along with the U.K. premiere of Peaches Does Herself.

Directed and written by Peaches and billed as an electro rock opera, Peaches Does Herself sees the performer follow the advice of an old stripper to make sexually forthright music and chronicles her rise in popularity and her love affair with a shemale that ultimately leads her to realize who she really is.

Indie rockers British Sea Power are set to perform the original score composed for From the Sea to the Land Beyond live as the Penny Woolcock-directed film unspools. It is a lyrical portrait of Britain's coastline, created through a combination of archive footage drawn from the BFI National Archive and music.

Cooper and director of programming Trevor Groth have programmed a wide range of different styles, from documentary to narrative to short films from across the entire Sundance lineup continued with the second edition.

Highlights include Jeff Nichols' Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey and the recently arrested Reese Witherspoon, and Stuart Zicherman's A.C.O.D., written by Ben Karlin and Stuart Zicherman and starring Jessica Alba, Adam Scott and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite's killer whale documentary Blackfish, the Sundance 2013 U.S. dramatic screenwriting winner In a World, directed and written by Lake Bell, and Oscar winner Barbara Kopple's Running From Crazy documentary about Ernest Hemingway and his family told via the writer's granddaughter Mariel Hemingway are also set to screen.

This year also sees the introduction of a section of British films that featured in Park City this year.

British titles arriving back in the U.K. from this year's U.S. festival edition include Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love, starring Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots and Tamsin Egerton in the story of porn baron Paul Raymond, and Nick Ryan's documentary The Summit, which won this year's U.S. documentary editing award.

The second edition of the Redford, Sundance Institute and AEG Europe-backed festival runs April 25 through 28 at AEG's O2 venue.