indieBUZZ ++ Friday, January 16, 1997

by indieWIRE

Preparations for the 1998 Sundance Film Festival were nearly complete yesterday,
with workers at a new exhibition space -- the Eccles Theater -- putting final
touches on exit door push bars, testing the sufficiently loud fire alarm, and
setting up the concessions. The theater looks to be a first-rate exhibition
venue, the first at this festival. Many of the other theaters have their
charms and quirks, but none have the combination of legroom, a dolby digital
sound system, state-of-the-art projection, and a monstrous seating capacity,
running at approximately 1,300 seats. The theater also has more seats for the
handicapped than are required by law.

On a guided tour, graciously given by Executive Director of the theater Teri Orr,
indieWIRE was treated to a behind-the-scenes look that included the sound and
projection booth (lotsa digital switches and doo dads), the stage area (soon to
host a performance by the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble among others, and home
to an annonymously donated $78,000 Steinway piano), and various green rooms and
band rehearsal areas. The $7.5 million project was financed in part by a public
bond election, and was five years in the making. The Sundance Film Festival
was "a great art partner for us," said Orr, "they helped us find other donors."

* * * * *

Rumors about "special screenings" at Sundance came to a halt yesterday with the
announcement of movie's titles. Alfonso Cuaron's "Great Expectations" will
screen tonight, the Coen Brother's “The Big Lebowski” and John Raffo’s “Johnny
” are on tap for Sunday, and Stuart Gordon’s “The Wonderful Ice Cream
; will show on Friday.

* * * * *

Commenting on Robert Redford’s absence at last night’s Sundance opening,
director Peter Howitt commented, “I thought Paul Newman was better in that
film anyway.”