Robert Redford steps back as the face of Sundance Film Festival

Patrick Ryan
Robert Redford says he's stepping back as the face of Sundance Film Festival.

PARK CITY, Utah – Robert Redford sent shockwaves down Main Street on Thursday when he announced that he's stepping back as the face of Sundance Film Festival, which he founded in 1978. 

The Oscar-winning director took the stage at Park City's Egyptian Theatre for the usual opening-day news conference. But rather than sit down for a Q&A and discussion with Sundance organizers and filmmakers, he kept his introduction brief before exiting. 

"I think we're at a point where I can move on to a different place," said Redford, 82, dressed casually in a leather jacket and jeans. "The thing I've missed over the years is being able to spend time with the films and the filmmakers."

“I’ve been spending a lot of time introducing things but I don’t think that the festival needs a lot of introduction anymore,” he added. 

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Redford previously announced his retirement from acting with last fall's "The Old Man & the Gun," which won critical raves but failed to land him a second Oscar nod for lead actor. 

"Moving on doesn’t mean you retire," Redford told USA TODAY in September. "When you really, really talk about retirement, you’re talking about something stopping. … For me, (this means) going back to my artwork and directing." 

There's no word whether he'll be on hand Thursday night to introduce the premiere of the Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams drama "After the Wedding" and Richard Wright adaptation "Native Son," which are opening the festival.

Contributing: Andrea Mandell