Robert Redford 2008 Recipient

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Robert Redford is known internationally for his iconic work in front of and behind the camera, and as an activist and philanthropist, whose passions range from fine art, film and theatre to Native American, human rights and environmental issues.

Redford’s life has always revolved around the arts. He first aspired to be an artist, studying painting before venturing into acting. Spanning half a century, Redford’s on-screen career reflects his extraordinary range and includes memorable roles in comedies, romances, Westerns, political thrillers and dramas. In 1980, he stepped behind the camera for his directorial debut, winning an Academy Award for Ordinary People. He went on to direct seven other films including 1994’s Quiz Show, for which he was again nominated for an Oscar. At the same time, he began taking the reins as producer as well. Redford received a lifetime Achievement Award at the 74th Academy Awards and be named one of the “Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine.

Early in his career, Redford began formulating a plan to create a force for artistic development that would go far beyond his personal needs. Beginning with two acres of land in Utah, Redford would eventually build Sundance, summer home to the Sundance Institute. Today, it is an artistic sanctuary with over 5,000 permanently protected acres of pristine wilderness. Here, in the remote natural setting and removed from the pressures of the marketplace, Redford created a community where emerging and established filmmakers, playwrights and composers could come together to explore their independent vision in an atmosphere of collaboration. Many of the most compelling films and plays of the past decades have been incubated and premiered at Sundance, which has become a key resource for independent film and theatre artists not only in the U.S. but around the world as well.

“Sundance created an opportunity of education through work that didn’t exist before,” says Redford. Today, the Institute fills that void, and Redford’s vision continues to influence and shape the American independent film and theatre landscape and beyond in the work of the Redford Center at Sundance Preserve and other Sundance entities.

Selection Committee

Agnes Gund, Chairperson – Aggie Gund is President Emerita of The Museum of Modern Art and Chairman of its International Council following more than 25 years serving on the board, including her role as President from 1991 until 2002. She is currently Chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of New York City, and Trustee of Studio in a School Association, a wonderful organization that she founded.

Patricia Cruz – Patricia Cruz is the Executive Director of Aaron Davis Hall, Harlem’s Principal Center for the Performing Arts. During her tenure, she has secured $2 million in endowment funds and initiated a $20 million capital campaign to secure the financial stability of the 22-year-old institution and expand its current facility. Among her recent accomplishments is the renovation of a 100-year-old landmark gatehouse building of the Croton Aqueduct System, which will provide a fourth theater and offices for the hall. Prior to joining Aaron David Hall, Cruz was the deputy director for programs and the director of development for the Studio Museum in Harlem. She also held the position of program director for the Chicago Council on Fine Arts. Cruz serves on the boards of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is past president of the ArtTable, a national organization of women in the arts.

Pete Hamill – If you have read his most excellent memoir, A Drinking Life, you know that he originally planned to become an artist, but he soon discovered a talent for journalism. He made his reputation as a reporter, sportswriter and columnist and eventually rose to become editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News. These days he’s a multimedia man of letters. Appearing frequently on radio and television, he has clearly made the transition from interviewer to interviewee. To give you an idea of his breadth, in your local bookstore, you will find his works in fiction, in non-fiction and in art. And you will find his articles and op-ed pieces in such diverse locations as The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, or Digital City on the Internet.

Hugh Hardy – Hugh Hardy is Founding Partner of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Hardy has built and reshaped America’s cultural landscape through architecture. His celebrated projects include, the restoration of Radio City Music Hall, the revitalization of Bryant Park, renovation of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and multiple projects for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center Theater, among many others.

Hardy’s recent awards include, the Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in Public Architecture by the United States General Services Administration, Placemark Award from the Design History Foundation, President’s Award from the Architectural League of New York, and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Theatre Design by the US Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc.

David Henry Hwang – David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Golden Child, Yellow Face and FOB, and the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. He is also a screenwriter, and America’s most-produced living opera librettist. David is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His recent play, Chinglish, recently seen on Broadway, won the 2011 Jeff Award for Best New Work, and was named Best American Play of 2011 by TIME Magazine. In 2012 he was the Residency One Playwright at NYC’s Signature Theatre, which produced a season of his plays, including the world premiere of his work, Kung Fu. He is the director of Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ M.F.A. program in playwriting.