Opening Night at Sundance
by John Bernstein
For the first time in years, Thursday night's Salt Lake City gala opening of
the Sundance Film Festival moved from it's usual digs at the Crossroads Mall
(right next to the food court), to the grandeur of palatial Abravanal Hall.
Rather than having to stagger screenings for 3 smaller festival audiences,
the grand venue easily accommodated the large crowd consisting of local
politicos and other Salt Lake dignitaries, sponsors, and many of the
festival-goers that will be calling Park City home for the next 11 days.
Sundance head-honcho Robert Redford kicked off the evening with his usual
mantra, "This festival is for the artist-- it's for the filmmaker."
Expanding his usual comments, the recent National Medal of the Arts
recipient thanked Utah for supporting the arts but called support at the
national level a disappointment. "There is a lack of support from the top of
the federal government. Art transcends politics. Sundance does what it can
to further the movement."
Redford unsuccessfully tried to bring Geoffrey Gilmore onstage to publicly
congratulate him, and apologized for the festival director's absence adding,
"I guess he's throwing up in the back right now."
"Brassed Off" director Mark Herman had his own acknowledgments before the
start of his opening night film. "I'd like to thank Sundance, the cast, and
I think I'm contractually obligated to thank Harvey Weinstein."
After the film, the crowd was serenaded over to the Marriott by a local high
school marching band. The hotel's crowded ballroom played host to the
opening reception, the last major event in Salt Lake before the bulk of the
festival activity shifted to Park City early Friday morning.