Code Of Conduct Stressed During Opening Of 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Jan 19, 2018

Walk along main street in the historic mining town of Park City and you will see badges being worn and signs posted reminding festival goers to conduct themselves in ways that are respectful.

“Right now at this time it's a bit of ground zero for the beginning of conversations that I think are only going to be starting here," said John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival.

Cooper is referring to ongoing reports of sexual misconduct within the industry that  has led to changes in the organizations code of conduct.

“We have had a code of conduct for our staff and volunteers but it had to go bigger this year," he said. "If we say we're from a community, we have to bring everybody in on this.”  

Cooper, along with president and film festival founder Robert Redford told an audience during an opening day press conference Thursday that the organization has set up a policy to prevent harassment, discrimination, sexism or threatening behavior during a festival designed to celebrate bold, creative and distinctive voices.

The Me Too and Times Up movements are bringing about an awareness about sexual misconduct in Hollywood, says Redford, in a way that he hopes will ultimately benefit women in the film-making industry.

“What it is doing is it is bringing forth more opportunity for women, and more opportunity for women in film to have their own voices heard and do their own projects," he said. "I'm pretty excited by that. It's kind of a tipping point because it's changing the order of things so that women can have a stronger voice."

Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam and her staff are working with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and his staff. Together they have created a hotline where festival attendees can report incidents of harassment.

“I think it's about the underlying systems of power and especially in the media industry," Putman said. "What this is meant for us, I think, is looking at at, what are those structures? What are those assumptions we make in terms of what we value? Who gets financing? Who gets distribution? Who gets to tell the stories and what stories we tell?"

Between now and January 28th the institute is sponsoring panel discussions featuring female filmmakers and of course a number of films showing at theaters in Park City, Salt Lake, Ogden and  Provo were directed and written by women and include strong female characters and themes.

During the press conference, all three gave examples of ways the institute is working with female filmmakers to provide training, funding and support for women interested in making a living, making films.