Governor honors Redford for contributions to Utah |

Governor honors Redford for contributions to Utah

Governor Gary Herbert presents Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford a framed silver belt buckle designed and created by Burns Saddlery in Park City during a gala at the Grand America Hotel on Nov. 9. Redford was honored for his contributions to Utah. (Nan Chalat Noaker/Park Record)

Utah showed its appreciation to Academy Award-wining actor, director and environmentalist Robert Redford during a black-tie gala that was held at the Grand America Hotel on Saturday night.

The founder of the Sundance Film Festival and Institute was honored by Governor Gary Herbert, who declared Nov. 9, 2013, as Robert Redford Day.

"Tonight we have the opportunity to pay tribute to … an extraordinary individual, an artist, an entrepreneur and, yes, a Utahn, whose contribution to Utah’s culture, its economy and way of life are immeasurable," Herbert told the sold-out audience. "People in the film industry know him as an extraordinary actor and the Oscar Award-winning director of ‘Ordinary People’ and founder of the Sundance Film Festival.

"Here in Utah, we know him as the neighbor up the street who is part of our family and someone for whom we have a great deal of respect," Herbert said. "For more than 50 years, Robert Redford has been an advocate and champion of Utah."

Redford’s contributions to Utah have been significant and vast, Herbert said.

"He has showcased Utah in many of his films and the Sundance Film Festival has had a significant economic impact on Utah," he said.

In the past five years, that impact has totaled more than $375 million dollars, which is about $75 million dollars a year, according to Herbert.

"The festival has provided about 8,200 local jobs and has attracted more than 290,000 visitors to the state from all over the world," he said.

In addition to the Sundance Film Festival and Institute, Redford established the Sundance Mountain Resort along the Alpine Loop.

"It is one of the gems of our Ski Utah portfolio," Herbert said about the resort. "This year-round resort has not only provided occupational opportunities, but also produces musicals on the outdoor stage that families have enjoyed over the years."

Herbert said that more importantly, he appreciates that Redford calls Utah home.

"The recognition is long overdue," Herbert said "Guess what, Bob? Tonight’s the night."

After a short speech by Redford’s son James, who is also a filmmaker, the man of the night approached the podium and said a few words of appreciation to the Governor.

"It takes a lot of courage for a governor to honor a man who has been burnt in effigy — twice," Redford deadpanned as he referred to a 1976 incident where 500 Kanab residents protested Redford’s opposition to the Kaiparowits power plant that would have become one of the world’s largest facility of its type in the world. "But that was a long time ago."

Redford, 77, also acknowledged many of Utah’s elected officials who were in the audience.

"Whatever differences may exist, we can all come together and agree on one thing, and that’s our love of this state and our country and the people," he said.

He also told the audience that he was taken aback and felt kind of numb.

"I feel lifted and shrunk at the same time," he said. "The tribute you have given me is overwhelming, and I’ve never been too big on tributes or awards, because it makes me shy."

The evening kicked off with a Native American ceremony that included drums, traditional dancing and an invocation and featured a video presentation about Redford’s career by Webb Audio Visual.

It also included live music by the Ted Hinckley Orchestra, which was arranged by Sam Cardon, and a solo performance by Tony and Grammy Award-winning singer and actress Audra McDonald, who flew from New York just hours earlier to perform.

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