Robert Redford pushes Sundance at MIPCOM

Indie film channel inks multi-territory carriage deals

More MIPCOM coverage

CANNES -- The Sundance Channel is expanding across Europe -- and brought along Robert Redford to the Cannes Croisette to add warmth to its latest but inevitably dry carriage deal announcements.

The indie film nicher inked deals with France's SFR, Netherlands' Caiway and South Korea's KT while at the market.

The agreements were unveiled Wednesday during MIPCOM at a presser attended by Redford as well as by lead stars of "Mad Men," Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss.

The season one of the series will premiere in HD in Gaul on the Sundance Channel in February.

The Rainbow Media-owned channel is also here on the Riviera to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its push into international, with its first deal having been inked in Belgium. It's also now available in Singapore and Poland.

Rainbow topper Josh Sapan told a room full of reporters at the Carlton Hotel that the event was "a birthday celebration" even if without a cake. (There was a four-course French lunch, however.)

"Sundance is a brand that resonates with audiences across the globe, and we are delighted with the momentum of our first year of international expansion," added Rainbow svp Ed Palluth.

For his part, a relaxed, casually attired but jet-lagged Redford said it was "especially gratifying" to see the Sundance vision play out on "a growing international stage."

The actor-director-producer and founder of the Sundance brand also said it was a pleasure to be with fellow actors and to celebrate the anniversary of the launch into overseas markets.

About France itself, Redford recalled an incident in 1957 when he was studying painting mostly in Paris. While hitchhiking, he was dropped off by a lorry in Cannes and ended up trying to sleep under the pier in front of a huge hotel. He saw the lights, the music of the Carlton -- and then went to sleep on the sand.

Sixteen years later he was invited to the festival for a film he starred in, and he found himself looking out at that same pier. It has, in short, France that is, "a lot of resonance for me."

He also described the history of his involvement with independent moviemaking -- and more pertinently for the MIPCOM audience -- finding distribution outlets for such artistic efforts.

"I had always wanted to go international. When Rainbow bought Sundance, now we had the chance to take it out," he told the 100-odd journalists.

Redford said that television presented much more opportunity right now, especially for documentaries and shorts, than "the very tight" film industry. He added that the creativity in television is particularly potent right now.

Asked if along with Sundance channel launches overseas there would be spin-off fests abroad as well, he suggested that there were probably by now too many such events. He'd prefer spreading the programming that Sundance produces.

For their part, Hamm and Moss chatted about their roles in the Emmy-winning series.

Hamm said he often looked down in "disbelief" in whatever new episode script he's handed at the mistakes his character is making. Moss said she most enjoyed "the complexities" of her character.

Hamm said the show is not simply "a travelogue of the 60s" but rather an examination of the cultural shift to a more forward-looking youth-oriented society. Moss said the rise of women and their growing consciousness is also at the heart of the show, particularly for her character Peggy.

Asked if the actors think the saturation media attention on "Mad Men" is excessive, the actors said it was "incredibly flattering" but essentially not their fault!

The event took place Wednesday midway through the MIPCOM market.