1 My first Sundance, in 1997, where I learn that locals call us festivalgoers PIBs: Persons in Black. Welcome to Park City. Where you can’t. The first and only year I rent a car, I park in a legal lot off Main Street. After an overnight snowfall the thing vanishes, towed for ransom some 100 yards away at the police station.
2 Press screening in 1997 of unknown indie In the Company of Men, by unknown filmmaker Neil LaBute. Journalists watch in a hotel banquet room darkened by blackout sheets. I enter innocent. I emerge bruised, provoked, thrilled.
3 Big buzz in 1998 for Nick Broomfield’s doc Kurt and Courtney. Then bad news: Official screenings have been canceled due to fear of lawsuits. Whispers go out about a supersecret, invitation-only screening at midnight. An armload of journos pile into a back room at an old Elks lodge. The super-secrecy is much more exciting than the film.
4 In 2001, Harvey Weinstein is very, very mad because of something I said weeks earlier about Chocolat. He summons me to the lobby of the biggest screening venue at 8:30 a.m. He pours out his wrath in public. It is a fearsome sight. I enjoy enhanced street cred with fellow critics until noon.
5 Waking Life: It’s a dream, it’s a trip, it’s a beautiful, state-of-the-medium cinematic representation of stream of consciousness. And when the 2001 premiere is over, I find myself screaming with delight. That’s me, emerging from the Sundance early-morning screening, dancing in the sun.