Sundance Festival’s outgoing manager gets well-deserved round of thanks
The Park Record editorial, April 1-4, 2017
In the glare of the Sundance Film Festival spotlight, a simple misunderstanding can become an international incident, and a finicky projector can spell doom for a budding director’s career. But for the last several years, a calm head has been at the helm, ensuring the event lived up to its growing global reputation.
Following this year’s festival, managing director Sarah Pearce announced her decision to step down. In March, she assumed a new supporting role as a consultant, allowing Betsy Wallace to assume the manager’s responsibilities. Much like her style as director, Pearce’s exit was smooth and seamless.
Pearce’s presence may have been barely noticeable to the filmgoers who slipped in and out of thousands of screenings during her tenure, but it was central to those behind the scenes. From inventing new spaces for the expanding slate of films to enlisting staff and volunteers, and then keeping everything on schedule regardless of weather and/or political anomalies, Pearce was the problem solver.
Pearce was also responsible for crafting a sustainable balance between Sundance’s interests and Park City’s. Under her guidance the relationship became increasingly beneficial to both, enabling the film festival to add new categories and special events while generating additional economic benefits for the city.
But there was another aspect that can be attributed to her leadership as well. Over the last 17 years, Sundance found ways to enhance its involvement with the community at large, and Park City schools in particular. From free summertime outdoor screenings to filmmaker visits in local classrooms, Sundance has enriched the cultural landscape. Pearce was an integral part of that effort.
Sundance is now part of Park City’s DNA. Although some bristle at all of the festival commotion in January, an overwhelming majority of Park City residents take exceptional pride in their town’s dual reputation as a global hub for both winter sports and independent film. We hope Pearce will stick around now that she has time to enjoy the amenities she helped to nurture.
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