Parkite wants to debunk ‘ivory tower perception’ of Sundance |

Parkite wants to debunk ‘ivory tower perception’ of Sundance

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

The flashbulbs will not be popping as Rory Murphy walks by during the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

But he is one of the local Sundance stars.

Murphy last August became the chairman of the Utah Advisory Board of the Sundance Institute, a role that puts him in a key position in the relations between the film festival and leaders in the state and in Park City.

A Parkite, Murphy’s term as the chairman lasts until August 2014. The Utah Advisory Board, which normally receives little publicity, involves approximately 20 members as well as others who serve in ex officio positions. Approximately half of the members are from the Park City area, according to Murphy.

This year’s film festival, scheduled from Jan. 17 until Jan. 27, will be his first in the role of chairman.

"It’s a real broad, I would say, kind of representation of the community, both Salt Lake and Park City," Murphy said about the Utah Advisory Board.

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The panel is separate from the Sundance Institute’s board of trustees, made of people from across the country, including recognizable names like designer Kenneth Cole and actor Stanley Tucci.

Murphy said members of the Utah Advisory Board handle duties like raising money, involving the community and strengthening relations with government officials on the local and state levels. Members also have a role in approving community programs.

"It’s very important we maintain good relationships," Murphy said, indicating the Utah Advisory Board works with the office of Gov. Gary Herbert, City Hall, the Summit County Courthouse and the Legislature.

He noted that local governments are important funding sources for Sundance.

Murphy’s term as the chairman will cover what are expected to be high stakes negotiations between Sundance organizers and Park City officials about the timing of the festival. It is anticipated that City Hall and some in the business community in Park City in coming months will press Sundance to consider moving the dates in an effort to avoid overlapping with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday.

The thinking is the holiday could be busy for the ski industry if Sundance was not occurring at the same time. The holiday and the festival overlap every few years. Sundance, though, could be hesitant to tinker with the dates since it is the first major festival on the annual independent-film circuit.

Murphy said he is confident an agreement will be reached with City Hall about the scheduling. The topic will be part of a wider discussion about an agreement to continue to hold the festival in Park City.

Murphy was a key member of the development team of Silver Star, a project on the edge of Thaynes Canyon where Sundance’s Utah headquarters are housed. He remains an owner of the commercial buildings at Silver Star, making him Sundance’s landlord in the state. Sundance staffers nominated him as the chairman of the Utah Advisory Board.

He said the community-involvement efforts of the Utah Advisory Board are especially important to him. Murphy said he wants the Park City community to see itself as being embraced by Sundance.

"There is a kind of ivory-tower perception of Sundance," he said. "We don’t want that to occur at all."