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Our Story

Redford Center History

The Redford family has dedicated a lifetime to safeguarding our planet. Since 2005, The Redford Center has demonstrated that impact-driven environmental films are an essential part of the solution.


The Redford Center is Established

In 2005, in the beauty of the canyon in Sundance, Utah, Robert Redford and James Redford introduce The Redford Center, merging the powers of environmental justice, collective action, education, and impact filmmaking.


The Redford Center’s work begins with the first Mayors Summit on Climate Protection as a companion to The Sundance Preserve, a nonprofit established by the Redford family in 1997 to maintain the balance of art, nature and community, as well as the cultivation of independent, innovative thought.


“After years of working to advocate for sustainability and protect wild places, my son James and I recognized the power of storytelling to bring light and advance these issues. We started The Redford Center to merge storytelling with action.” – Robert Redford

2006 – 2010

Releasing Our First Feature Film + Series

In 2008, The Redford Center begins its legacy of activist filmmaking when it releases its first film, Fighting Goliath, in collaboration with The Sundance Preserve. Fighting Goliath wins numerous festival awards and airs on the Sundance Channel. The film tells the story of Texans coming together to oppose the construction of 19 coal-fired power plants in a high-stakes battle for clean air, and was successful in helping halt the construction of over 200 coal plants across the United States. In 2009, the Art of Activism series launches and the organization’s headquarters move from Utah to California.


Restoring the Colorado River + Welcoming New Programs and Leadership

In 2012, The Redford Center releases its second feature film, Watershed, resulting in numerous awards and the formation of the Raise the River coalition committed to restoring the Colorado River delta. The film aired on Netflix and Participant Media’s Pivot TV. Jill Tidman is also welcomed as Executive Director. In 2014 The Redford Center officially becomes a California nonprofit and launches its Clean Energy Initiative. In 2015, Robert Redford gives speech to world leaders at COP 21 and The Redford Center launches its Fiscal Sponsorship program with the film Bill Nye: Science Guy.


Supporting Storytellers Across the Globe

The Redford Center launches its Grants program, with a leading gift from New York Community Trust, resulting in the support and creation of over 45 films that have gone on to receive awards, premieres, and distribution from industry leaders including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, PBS, National Geographic, Sundance, Jackson Wild, DC Environmental Film Festival, and many more. Our Grantee films include Youth V Gov, We Still Here, Exposure, To The End, Meat the Future, and more.


Championing Youth Voices and the Clean Energy Revolution

In 2017, The Redford Center releases Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution. The film is released on HBO in 45 countries, accumulates 2M+ viewers in the US market alone and screens in all 50 US states. The release is followed by an impact campaign that includes an educational toolkit used in over 500 classrooms across the US and prominent screenings at COP23, the American Film Showcase, the Malaysian Embassy, and more.


Jaden Smith is awarded with the inaugural Robert Redford Award in 2018. In 2019, The Redford Center invests in a new generation of filmmakers by launching its Youth Environmental Storytelling program, leading to the creation of more than 550 student films in three years.


Remembering James Redford
  • Beloved and acclaimed filmmaker, artist, activist, son, father, husband, and Redford Center Co-founder and Board Chair, James Redford, passes away, leaving behind an indelible mark on the environmental movement and film industry. His son, filmmaker Dylan Redford, is elected as Board Chair.


Meeting the Moment

The Redford Center advances its commitment to leveraging environmental stories as key solutions for igniting public engagement with environmental health and justice by investing in both its internal and external impact and initiatives.


In 2020, The Redford Center launches its Friday Night Films screening series. The Power The Vote election series is also released in an effort to more deeply engage environmental voters.


In 2021, The Redford Center more than doubles its staff, launches its Nature Connection project in collaboration with IF/THEN Shorts, and invests in several climate storytelling fiction films and media initiatives, including the NRDC/Blacklist Climate Storytelling Fellowship collaboration, the Good Energy Playbook, and Hollywood Climate Summit. In 2021-22, The Community Power for Clean Transportation series launches, featuring short films on communities in Arizona, Nevada, Indiana, New Jersey, and Minnesota.

Robert Redford’s Environmental Legacy

Remembering James Redford