Robert Redford on Cannes and Content

Reflects on storytelling

In a nod to long-form creative, Robert Redford Tuesday received a rousing welcome from the packed hall after being welcomed by Yahoo’s Ross Levinsohn at the Content and Conversation Catalyst event. Redford quickly ran through his path to starting the Sundance Festival and Channel, and the long tail of cable and technology that provides for an outlet for the channel. But Redford moved on to the art and business of content creation.

     On what makes great storytelling: Redford quipped “sex” and drew a round of laughter. But more seriously, he said, “It’s something that will inform you in a way you haven’t been informed before.” He then went on to tell a story about being dumped by a truck driver in Cannes while hitchhiking from Paris and Florence during a year he spent in Europe as a struggling art student.

     That night he slept in the sand in a sleeping bag under the pier at the Carlton Hotel and heard the sound of people enjoying themselves above him and thought: “Man, what would it feel like being up there in a tuxedo and enjoying myself.” Fast-forward 16 years later, he was back in Cannes showing his first film and staying at the Carlton. “ I remember looking out at that pier and thinking, ‘Oh, man’," he said.

Levinsohn, who announced that Yahoo will sponsor the 2012 Sundance shorts program, asked Redford what keeps him going. Again, he quipped “sex," drawing the same round of laughter. And then, “You have to take yourself back to a beginning for yourself and start new.”