Tony Safford, whose eclectic taste, personal love of film and desire to add an international flavor has shaped the past six United States Film Festivals, will leave his post as director of programming and special projects at the Sundance Institute when Festival '90 concludes.
Meanwhile, Alberto Garcia, who has worked with Safford on two festivals, was named competition director for the 1990 festival, overseeing the selection of films in the documentary and dramatic competitions.Safford will become vice president of acquisitions and co-productions at New Line Cinema, one of Hollywood's "mini-majors," a production and distribution studio whose films range from children's fare ("Babar: The Movie," the upcoming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") to gory horror (the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, the current "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III") to youth comedies ("House Party," which is in the festival competition) to the offbeat and unclassifiable ("Communion").
"It's been a terrific experience," Safford said of his six years with Sundance, during which time the festival began presenting Latin American cinema (this year it's a slate of Colombian films), added programs of shorts in the "Rogues Gallery" and "Discovery Program" series and geared the symposiums more directly toward the burning interests and needs of independent filmmakers.
Safford's tenure also saw the festival grow and achieve an unprecedented level of recognition and respect within the film industry as major studios, mini-majors and producers on every level began coming to Park City to seriously search for marketable properties instead of just to see what the little guys were doing.
His replacement, Alberto Garcia, was more or less hand-picked by Safford, but not because Safford sees Garcia as someone who has the same tastes or will make the same decisions. Safford said some of the films in the documentary and dramatic competitions this year were the subjects of hot debate and he feels Garcia's passion for uniqueness in independent film is just what the festival needs to keep on track.
For his part, Garcia says arguing comes naturally, in particular on subjects he feels passionate about - and film is one.
"I'm opinionated and I love to argue about films," Garcia said. "My whole family is Cuban - and it's a big family - and they like to argue, emotionally charged discussions. It gets really emotional, but it's never really personal. So I love doing that part.
"And film just happens to be one of the things I became knowledgable about very quickly."
A Southern California native, Garcia was in charge of incoming and outgoing films at Sundance during the June lab a couple of years ago when he met Safford. "I was the print schlep," Garcia explained. "I met Tony over a pool game and I don't know why he remembered me."
This past year Garcia has been getting a crash course in film festivals, hitting Telluride, Toronto and New York and finding films all over the country that have excited him.
"I'm high on all the films (in the two competitions)."
One subject that seems to make him uncomfortable, however, is his age. "I'm old enough to drink. Let's just say I'm under 25.
"It's come up and I don't know how to deal with it at this point. I think there's a fear on the part of some people that my age is going to result in a rather sophomoric, adolescent film festival, so why fuel the fire at this point?
"Everybody always does a double take like they think I'm the guy that's going to take them to the big guy."
Perhaps it should be noted that Safford was only 29 when he got the job in 1984.
They may differ on particular films, but Garcia's thoughts about the selections, made with input from the committees for each competition category, do sound similar to Safford's.
"I like discovering people who have interesting ideas," Garcia said. "That's part of what programming is all about, examining films that have interesting ideas rather than just proficient execution. It's the ideas that were really intriguing to me."
He's also particularly interested in the unique film voice provided by minority filmmakers.
"With the black filmmakers (whose works are in festival competition), there's something there that is an experience you don't normally have. Part of it is that they're black and just the flood of really well-made white, male, middle-class films kind of overshadows them. But I think they're exploring interesting agendas, either social or political or cultural, and making them really fascinating.
"The same thing with some of the women directors. Women offer a unqiue perspective of the world that is different from what men normally experience. And that's interesting, I find that really exciting."
Garcia also said he encourages Salt Lake moviegoers who might be hesitant to trek up to Park City to sample what the festival has to offer. "Seeing what happened with `Roger & Me' at Telluride and Toronto (where audience reaction helped a documentary receive a major studio release), I realized that the audiences - the local audiences - have a much greater impact on what is going to get out into the mainstream markets. They really make a serious impact on what the industry decides what's hot."
-CATCH OF THE DAY: Tuesday: "The Natural History of Parking Lots," in the dramatic competition, has a title that's intriguing and a story line to match: Two brothers, a drug dealer and a car thief, struggle to rise above the world that surrounds them. (Egyptian, 7 p.m.)
Wednesday: "Duck, You Sucker" is often overlooked in Sergio Leone's canon of spaghetti Westerns, but this restored European version, starring James Coburn and Rod Steiger, is well worth a look for its exciting action and Leone's humor-laden style. (Holiday II, 1:15 p.m.)
-STAR-SPOTTING: Clint Eastwood is scheduled to discuss Leone and his work in the Holiday Village Cinemas II following "Duck, You Sucker." Eastwood, of course, got his big-screen career going as The Man With No Name in Leone's so-called "Dollar Trilogy."
The festival is presented by the Sundance Institute in cooperation with the Utah Film Commission. For further information about tickets or specific events phone 328-FILM.
Egyptian: "H-2 Worker," 10 a.m.; "Vienna Is Different," 1 p.m.; "Mr. Hoover and I," 4 p.m.; "The Natural History of Parking Lots," 7 p.m.; "House Party," 10 p.m.
Holiday I: "The Spider Game," 10:30 a.m.; "Never Leave Nevada," 1:30 p.m.; "The Long Way Home," 4:30 p.m.; "A Time to Die," 7:30 p.m.; "Petulia," 10:30 p.m.
Holiday II: "A Man of Principle," 10:15 a.m.; "Little Fish in Love," 1:15 p.m.; "Sophisticated Gents," 4:15 p.m.; "Watermelon Man," 7:15 p.m.; "Rock," 10:15 p.m.
Holiday III: "The Story of a Three-Day Pass," 10 a.m.; "To Protect Mother Earth," 1 p.m.; "I.F. Stone's Weekly," 4 p.m.; "Painting the Town" and "Metamorphosis," 7 p.m.; "Berkeley in the Sixties," 10 p.m.
Prospector: "Discovery Program," 10 a.m.; "The Horseplayer," 1 p.m.; "The Unbelievable Truth," 4 p.m.; "A Matter of Degrees," 7 p.m.; "The Plot Against Harry," 10 p.m.
Sundance: "Metropolitan," 7 p.m.
Egyptian: "How to Be Louise," 10 a.m.; "Water and Power," 1 p.m.; "The Plot Against Harry," 4 p.m.; "The Unbelievable Truth," 7 p.m.; "The Horseplayer," 10 p.m.
Holiday I: "Mr. Hoover and I," 10:30 a.m.; "The Three," 1:30 p.m.; "Dance of Hope," 4:30 p.m.; "Dancing for Mr. B.," 7:30 p.m.; "The Other Side of the Moon," 10:30 p.m.
Holiday II: "Visa U.S.A.," 10:15 a.m.; "Duck, You Sucker," 1:15 p.m.; "Last Images of the Shipwreck," 4:15 p.m.; "Ya-Ha," 7:15 p.m.; "Robin and Marian," 10:15 p.m.
Holiday III: "Teatro," 10 a.m.; "H-2 Worker," 1 p.m.; "Waldo Salt," 4 p.m.; "The Long Way Home," 7 p.m.; "Aviva Slesin," 10 p.m.
Prospector: "Sweetie," 10 a.m.; "Mortal Passions," 1 p.m.; "To Sleep With Anger," 4 p.m.; "Longtime Companion," 7 p.m.; "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," 10 p.m.
Sundance: "Chameleon Street," 7 p.m.