Sundance Closes 14th Annual Event; Saperstein Announces Festival Departure

by Eugene Hernandez

The 1998 Sundance Film Festival came to a close yesterday with screenings of winning films (see yesterday's issue for a complete list). Crowds filled the Eccles Theater in the morning for final screenings of the Grand Jury Award winning documentary and dramatic feature films, "The Farm" and "Slam." Interestingly, both films depict prison life; "The Farm," is a documentary about life-sentenced inmates in Louisiana's Angola prison and "Slam," is the portrait of a poet facing an unjust prison sentence. Additionally, "Frat House," the co-Grand Jury award winning documentary screened at the Eccles yesterday morning, while other winners screened throughout Park City.

Among the buzz at last night's awards ceremony at the Park City Racquet Club was the announced departure of the Festival's longtime Media Director Saundra Saperstein. Saperstein, who has served on the Festival staff since its inception, gracefully appeared on stage last night to accept a bouquet of flowers and thank the assembled audience. At the post-awards ceremony, Saperstein told indieWIRE that while she considered leaving the festival last year, she is pleased to be leaving after a year in which the event has been so highly praised for its efficiency and programming. Saperstein added that she will remain in her post as head of marketing for the Utah Film Commission. In a tribute to Saperstein, the Hollywood Reporter distributed a mock front page yesterday which honored her tenure in four articles. In one piece, a mock article depicted Institute founder Robert Redford as having sunken into a "serious clinical depression" over the news and in another, writers praised her "cascading furs, Tiffany earrings and sophisticated manner" and noted the end of her pacification of "prima-donna filmmakers waiting for their big interview" and "self-absorbed scribes demanding their one-on-one with Redford."