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Jo Jo Whilden / Cold Fusion Media
Saffron Burrows in as scene from "The Guitar," director by Amy Redford.

Her father is actor and filmmaker Robert Redford, so the natural assumption would be that Amy Redford would want to follow in his footsteps.

But her entry into the world of show business — in particular, her movie-industry career — wasn't quite as likely as you might think. In fact, she says she did ""almost everything I could to resist it.

"I've never been interesting in doing what's expected of me. I'm not difficult, but I am my own woman," she said by telephone from the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.

Up until now, the 37-year-old Redford has taken some bit parts in television programs and movies, but those were mostly to her help finance some theatrical endeavors.

"I haven't been completely out of the spotlight, but I've been avoiding it as much as I possibly can," she said. What eventually changed her mind about her "career trajectory" was a script — screenwriter Amos Poe's "The Guitar."

It was a movie Redford said she "just had to do."

"When I read the script, I fell in love with it immediately. It wasn't predictable or false, and it had real honesty and beauty," she explained. Redford makes her feature-film directorial debut with the drama, about a woman, Melody Wilder, whose life falls apart in a hurry. In short order, Melody loses her job and boyfriend, and then is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

But rather than giving up completely, she decides to live her life to the fullest in the remaining time. That includes learning to play the electric guitar.

As strange it sounds, Redford said she was "a little relieved" when she found out the script had already been optioned by another producer. "That meant I wouldn't have to worry about becoming a filmmaker," she said with a laugh.

However, Redford kept thinking about the script, and when she discovered that the film still wasn't in production, she made a few inquiries. She met with Poe, secured the financing and, reluctantly at first, agreed to make the film.

"Having come from a strong theater background, I wasn't too confident about my abilities as a director," Redford said. "But I had to make sure it got made. It would have been one of the great regrets of my life if the script would have languished."

A key addition to the production was British actress Saffron Burrows (TV's "Boston Legal"), who stars as Melody. Originally, the character had been written as "pretty mousy," and as Redford noted, the 6-foot-tall Burrows is "anything but mousy."

But, "I think that's what really appealed to Saffron most about the project. Mel is completely different from the bombshells she's normally used to playing," she said.

Still, Redford did need some convincing from Burrows. "And she was absolutely amazing. Now I can't imagine anyone else playing that part," she said.

"The Guitar" will make its debut at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Initially, Redford resisted submitting the film because of possible nepotism concerns. (Her father's Sundance Institute runs the festival).

"There's an obvious assumption that my film would get in automatically because of my last name," she said. "But I promise that I did go through the same submission process everyone else did. It's pretty nerve-wracking."

She's "equally grateful, relieved and nervous" about the film's acceptance. And speaking of Sundance, the 37-year-old Redford also appears in another festival feature, the dark comedy "Sunshine Cleaning," which stars Amy Adams ("Enchanted").

But while Redford's name is listed in the cast, she insists her part in the movie is minimal. "I swear, I'm in it for a minute or less. It's practically a cameo."

Besides, she's concentrating her efforts on promoting "The Guitar." "This is really big. I could almost retire now, knowing I've made the film — this film I really wanted to make," she said.

If you go ...

What: "The Guitar"

Where: Sundance Film Festival '08

When: Today, 3:15 p.m. (Park City); Saturday, midnight (Park City); Monday, 6:30 p.m. (Ogden); Wednesday, 9 p.m. (Sundance resort); Jan. 26, 9:30 p.m. (Salt Lake City)

How much: $15 ($10 wait-list tickets)

Phone: 435-776-7878

Web: www.sundance.org/festival

E-mail: [email protected]