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Sundance goes to Abu Dhabi? Maybe, Redford says

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ABU DHABINow this is a cultural exchange. Sundance kid Robert Redford has said that his Sundance Film Festival is engaged in early talks to lend its name to a sister film festival in Abu Dhabi.

“It makes total sense we would extend our mission into the Middle East,” Redford told reporters at a news conference ahead of the festival’s opening on Thursday night. He said festival organizers have been approached by people — although he did not say whom — in the United Arab Emirates city about holding a festival there. “We are in discussions, but nothing has been signed,” he said.

What makes it most interesting is that Sundance is known as the No. 1 festival for U.S. independent film, and it has long embraced movies about outsiders and people who live on the edge of society. Sundance champions gay and lesbian films and filmmakers. It’s not exactly the type of image many Americans would like portrayed overseas, especially in the Middle East. Or, is it?SUNDANCE/

Another thing that Redford, a long-time activist for liberal causes, did was slam the Bush administration for cutbacks to funding for the arts during his tenure in the White House. Redford said he was optimistic that President-elect Obama will restore a favorable climate for public funding of the arts after he is inaugurated next week.

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