Robert Redford kicks off 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Robert Redford attends the 29th Santa Barbara International Film Festival American Riviera Award to Robert Redford at the Arlington Theatre on Feb. 7, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California.

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Robert Redford kicks off the Sundance Film Festival he founded 31 years ago on Thursday afternoon at the event's original home, the 280-seat Egyptian Theatre.

The Sundance fest has long outgrown that venue and now casts a Hollywood sheen over this cozy ski resort town for 10 days.

Gift suites, sponsored showrooms and celebrity hangouts have overtaken shops on Main Street. Posh parties and starry concerts pop up at the town's nightclubs and hotels.

Movies remain the focus, though, as more than 12,000 submissions from around the globe were culled to the 118 feature-length documentary and narrative films featured during the festival.

"The big takeaway I have is the bravery and boldness of our independent film community," said festival director John Cooper. "There's a real intensity that is permeating independent filmmaking these days."

Among the highlights: James Franco, in his first appearances since "The Interview"-Sony hack scandal, has three films in Park City -- two at Sundance and one at the concurrent, even-more-indie festival, Slamdance. Funny folks Jack Black and Sarah Silverman take dramatic turns in feature films; Bobcat Goldthwait premieres a documentary about comic Barry Crimmins; and comedian Tig Notaro stars in her own documentary, "Tig."

Other starry offerings include: "Z for Zachariah," in which Margot Robbie believes she's the last woman on Earth, until she discovers Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor; "Sleeping With Other People," starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie; the gambling drama "Mississippi Grind," starring Ryan Reynolds, Alison Brie and Alfre Woodard; "Lila & Eve" with Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis; "Slow West" with Michael Fassbender; and the closing-night film, "Grandma," starring Lily Tomlin.

The Sundance Film Festival continues through Feb. 1.