The gala event was organized by Gary Herbert the Governor of Utah and named The Governor’s Salute to Robert Redford.
Over 1,200 people were in attendance at the dinner that was sold out, which took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand American hotel.
Attendees of the gala listened to Redford, James his son, and Audra McDonald a five-time winner at the Tony Awards.
Redford said he had been overwhelmed by Utah’s tribute to him. He said he avoided the overtures of Herbert for recognition for many years due to being a shy person.
Herbert said that Redford had finally relented, most likely because we wore him down. The Governor said Redford finally allowed the state to pay homage and to thank him for all the work he done and for the contributions, he had made over the years to Utah, which the governor said were significant.
Redford during his speech, said he first found Utah when driving back to Los Angeles. He purchased some land in 1961 in the mountains and in 1969 opened the Sundance Resort. He and his friend and fellow actor Paul Newman starred that same year in, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Redford followed the resort, with the Sundance Institute and the world renowned Sundance Film Festival.
In a tribute video shown to the attendees, Redford said the idea had been to create independent showcasing where films could have a location to gather and make a community, to see the work of one another.
In addition, he said, if someone was lucky, someone else might see it. That is where the idea of the film festival came about which has made it what it is today, said Redford.
The office of Utah’s governor announced that the film festival impacts the area with $75 million each year in the state economy. It creates 8,200 jobs by drawing over 219,000 tourists to the state over the past five years.