Director: Mora Stephens
Screenwriters: Mora Stephens, Joel Viertel

Institute History

  • 2015 Sundance Film Festival


A charismatic federal prosecutor and devoted family man whose political star is on the rise, Sam Ellis (Patrick Wilson) appears to be en route to higher office. But what he thinks will be a "onetime thing" with a high-class escort service swiftly escalates into a reckless sexual compulsion. Facing ever-intensifying scrutiny as he is groomed for a U.S. Senate seat, Sam wrestles with the addiction that threatens to destroy his life, family, and career.

Intrigued by politics since her debut feature, Conventioneers, filmmaker Mora Stephens goes behind the curtains of power—and between the sheets—to explore political sex scandals and the type of man they all have in common: the great leader and good husband who has literally everything to lose. And therein lies the fascinating contradiction—one that actor Wilson explores with depth and humanity. A study of compulsion, power, and masculine self-conception, Zipper explores not only the fallen man but the complex woman who stands behind him: Sam’s wife, Jeannie (Lena Headey), who may hold his fate in her hands. Zipper is proof that all politics is local. —J.N.

— John Nein

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]