Sundance's Cooper credits Utah for bravery

Do we have the good people of Utah to thank for last year’s Sundance Film Festival reboot, in which director John Cooper and founder Robert Redford brushed away Hollywood commercialism like a light dusting of snow and returned the festival to its gritty indie roots, a reorientation they plan to continue this year?

That may well be.

“I was kind of brave in my foolishness,” Cooper, who took the festival reins in 2009, told Utah’s Standard-Examiner. “I was not afraid of risk, or trying things. If it doesn’t work, it’s only a festival, and a lot of it is about having fun, or it should be.”

The risk, Cooper said, was mitigated by the awareness that, even if the glam-seekers lost interest, he had a built-in audience in the festival’s own backyard. “Celebrity may drive ticket sales, but here’s how you work around that: You build an audience base that has a different kind of appreciation for film,” he told the paper. “And that’s what we’ve done, especially in the state of Utah. I don’t think Utahns realize what an advanced filmgoing audience they are. This a very film-savvy pocket of the world.”