I tend to be skeptical of anything pitched as "an Evening with..." someone, because I don't generally melt from simply being in the presence of someone famous or talented -- they've got to, you know, do something. But when the San Francisco International Film Festival announced "An Evening with Robert Redford," they had a trump card: a brand new print of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, one of my favorite films that I had nonetheless never seen on the big screen. That seemed like a fair trade: you give me Butch Cassidy and I'll sit through the clip reel and onstage interview. Deal.
It was pretty painless, actually. The interviewer, the San Francisco Chronicle's Philip Bronstein, manages to just be mildly sycophantic, and Redford was thoughtful and articulate -- as charming as you'd expect. The audience questions were typically gushy and occasionally inappropriate (someone tried to pitch a documentary project, prompting a groan from the entire room -- who really thinks that a 1500-person Q&A is a good venue to talk business with Robert Redford?) but the man answered (or deflected) them with the aplomb of someone who has done this a gazillion times. At one point, we learned that Redford has not seen Butch Cassidy in the 40 years since its release, which is kind of remarkable when you think about it.