Actor Robert Redford, who chairs the Sundance Film Festival, lambasted conservative critics in Utah who proposed cutting $300,000 in annual state funding for the 10-day event.
"Sometimes the narrowest mind barks the loudest, and we've over time come to ignore it," Utah's star resident said at a press conference Thursday, at the first day of the festival in Park City. "It’s a free country and maybe they should look at the Constitution."
Redford told attendees that the annual event brings in about $80 million for the local economy. Roughly 46,731 people attended Sundance in 2012.
Sutherland Institute, a conservative group in Utah, proposed cutting state funding for the festival on the grounds that its content was at odds with the state's family values.
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Sundance showcases independent films from around the world and is known to feature films that push the limits when it comes to traditional values. One of Redford's associates founded it in Salt Lake City in 1978.
Two of this year's controversial films are "Lovelace," in which a woman becomes a porn star to escape her abusive husband, and "Two Mothers," in which two women fall in love with each other's teenage sons.
"What would you call a film festival airing movies that explore the lives of porn stars, adulterous relationships between mothers and their friends' children, and teenagers competing to lose their virginity?" Derek Monson, director of public policy for Sutherland, said in a blog post. "Many Utahans' values would lead them to call this `obscenity' or `pornography,' but to the state of Utah, evidently it is simply `economic activity.'"
Utah has not announced any plans to cut the funding.
Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Governor's Office of Economic Development, defended the festival to the Huffington Post
"If we lost the film festival, we would be giving up $80 million," he said.
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