The movies that caught Sundance attention

By EW Staff
February 09, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Moviegoers may dream of an aisle seat and a little extra leg room, but moviemakers … all they crave is precious, precious buzz. Here are the vertiginous trajectories of five films that gained and lost the prized chatter over the course of fickle Sundance’s 11 days.

Daniel Fierman and Josh Wolk

DONNIE DARKO Rumors anoint Richard Kelly’s debut a hot property. Think that had anything to do with ”producer” Drew Barrymore?

[1/19] Harvey, Amir, and just about everyone else in the indie universe show at the first screening.

They actually see the film. Things get darko. Very darko.

[1/28] No distribution deal, but consensus emerges that Kelly has promise.

RAW DEAL: A QUESTION OF CONSENT Billy Corben’s doc about the alleged 1999 rape of exotic dancer Lisa Gier King in a Florida frat house.

[1/20] Curious to see the film, alleged rape victim Lisa Gier King is among those at the movie’s first screening. Despite graphic content, almost no one — including Gier King — walks out. (She declined to comment.)

[1/25] The New York Post puts Raw Deal on its cover, under the screaming headline RAPE, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE.

[1/26] Artisan picks up flick.

[1/27] Shut out at awards ceremony.

ENIGMA Kate Winslet’s $20 million code-cracker movie looks intriguing, but about as indie as Battlefield Earth.

[1/23] After premiere party, producer Mick Jagger leaves town. Takes buzz with him.

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER A Meatballs satire with Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce at Sundance? What next, Naked Gun 4.4?

[1/23] Press roars at first screening, relieved to have respite from indie gloom.

[1/25] Thanks to press raves, outside the 5:30 p.m. screening there’s a color war of people battling for tickets.

[1/26] Moviegoers roust for packed 8:30 a.m. screening, even if most of cast can’t.

[1/28] On flights home, festivalgoers burst into random giggle fits remembering Wet Hot‘s Chris Meloni humping a fridge.

THE BELIEVER Life as a Jewish Nazi skinhead. Not your rabbi’s after-shul special.

[1/20] Expectations of American History X2 confounded after first showing.

[1/25] Following packed screening, lobby filled with bubbling praise for lead actor Ryan Gosling.

[1/27] Writer-director Henry Bean, who had left on Jan. 23, called back to accept Grand Jury Prize.