Robert Redford refused to be drawn on Donald Trump as the Sundance Film Festival opened Thursday, but vowed a popular "movement" would fight funding cuts the incoming president plans to make.
Asked his opinion about how filmmaking would be affected after the president-elect's inauguration on Friday, the two-time Oscar winner insisted Sundance doesn't do politics.
"Presidents come and go. The pendulum swings back and forth. It always has, it probably always will," Redford, 80, told reporters as he kicked off the annual showcase for independent films at the ski resort of Park City, Utah.
"So we don't occupy ourselves with politics. We try to stay away from politics per se and we stay focused on what are the stories being told by artists."
However, without referring directly to Trump, Redford said he expects cuts to arts and other funding, acknowledging that many fear "things are getting dark and the darkness is closing in around them."
The president-elect has vowed to slash government spending and his transition team is reported to have been working on a plan to cut $10.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years.
"Those people who weren't interested or figured 'who cares?' are now going to realize that they are going to be directly affected and they are going to step up," Redford said.
"I hope and I think it's going to be followed by a movement, and a movement is going to go against whatever choice is made to cut things away that affects people. People are going to rebel against that."
- 'Free expression' -
Although Redford has always insisted that Sundance organizers are above politics, this year's festival looks to be among the most political in its 32-year history.
Among the films to be screened during the 10-day event, "Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time" is set to get its world premiere, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the Republican's shock victory against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, talk show host Chelsea Handler will lead an anti-Trump "women's march" on Saturday in Park City, one of hundreds of similar events planned across the country for the same day.
"It's also a time for us to really celebrate and affirm some of the founding values of Sundance, which obviously include the power of art and artists to propel us forward as a society, but also free expression," Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said.
Over the years, Sundance has offered a platform for independent filmmakers and launched movies that have gone on to dominate the Oscars conversation, including this year's "Manchester by the Sea."
The festival, which runs through January 29, will shine the spotlight on 120 independent features, most of them world premieres and many by newcomers trying to make their mark.
Highlights this year include the usual spread of drama, thriller, horror and comedy movies as well as a diverse slate of documentaries.
Redford has been a lifelong champion of environmental causes and the festival is shining a light on climate change with 14 films and virtual reality projects in its "The New Climate" segment.
Among the films attracting the most pre-festival attention is "An Inconvenient Sequel," a follow-up to former vice-president Al Gore's watershed environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" (2006).
Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the movie follows Gore as he continues his campaign to build a more sustainable future for the planet.