(CBS/AP) The Sundance Film Festival kicked off Thursday with an introduction from the Sundance Institute's founder Robert Redford and with screenings of four films including "Hello I Must Be Going" starring Blythe Danner and Melanie Lynskey.
Robert Redford characterized this year's films as products of "dark and grim" times and the "suffering from a government that's in paralysis."
"Even though the work reflects hard times, there's not paralysis here," the 75-year-old filmmaker said at an afternoon news conference. "They're breathing life into fresh, new stories."
Opening-night films this year were: "The Queen of Versailles," which chronicles the housing-bust story of a couple that tried to build a palatial 90,000-square-foot mansion; "Hello I Must Be Going," a love story between a 19-year-old man and a 35-year-old divorcee; "Wish You Were Here," a dark story of a vacation gone wrong starring Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer; and "Searching for Sugar Man," a portrait of promising 1970s singer-songwriter Rodriguez and his fade into obscurity.
The festival has become both a place for distributors to find the next indie hit, as well as a launch place for films that already have distributors and want to build buzz among audiences who attend Sundance.
While the festival has grown over its 28 years, Redford said the institute's mission remains the same: To support and encourage independent filmmakers and provide a platform for their work to be seen.
The Sundance Film Festival continues through Jan. 29.