Robert Redford said Saturday the purpose of the Sundance Film Festival is not only to exhibit independent films but also to raise audience awareness of movies that are not as slick as Hollywood fare.

"We're offering a forum of exhibition, that is the point of the festival," the actor and Oscar-winning director said. Redford's Sundance Institute is designed to help independent filmmakers "hone their skills," he explained, while the festival will "help them get their films into the marketplace. We want to make the public aware of these films so they'll ask for them," rather than just sequels and formula pictures."One of the things I've always found exciting about my industry is how broad it is."

Redford helped raised the profile of the 13th annual film festival with a press conference, where he fielded questions about the 11-day event, as well as the Sundance Institute, which is celebrating its 10th year.

The 85-film festival began its Park City run Friday, with a few screenings at Sundance and in Salt Lake City as well. By Saturday it was running in full gear, with many films and programs already selling out.

Redford's Sundance Resort, where the press conference was held, was also operating at full tilt. National and international entertainment reporters who are in Park City for the festival made their way up Provo Canyon in the falling snow, dodging skiers who were filling up the resort's parking lot.

His notorious reputation for being late notwithstanding, Redford was on time for the 11 a.m. gathering and took his place in a room that was too small to accommodate the surprise overflow of reporters. On the other side of the glass wall behind him it was snowing, adding a nice, unexpected aesthetic touch to the proceedings.

Redford began with a brief comment about the Middle East war, saying "our prayers are with everyone" involved in the conflict.

Before taking questions, he said he wanted to clarify the intentions of the Sundance Institute. "The purpose from the beginning, and it has not wavered, was to provide support, development and a showcase for independent filmmakers." He added that it applies to independent filmmakers in and outside of the mainstream of the motion picture industry.

He also emphasized that he claims Utah citizenship and wants to see the film industry prosper in the state.

Asked if major studios shouldn't be offering more financial support to the institute as a way of developing filmmakers of the future, Redford agreed that "logic is beyond the film industry."

He also said that despite his intention to make more movies over the next few years - he is currently preparing to shoot "The President Elopes," with Michelle Pfeiffer, and will direct "The River Runs Through It" this summer - he has no intention of abandoning the Sundance Institute.