1 Seeing Brian Wilson in 1995, my first year at Sundance, as he performed a warbly yet thrilling set at a party for the enraptured pop documentary I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.
2 Serving on the dramatic feature jury in 1998. It was a thrill to help honor pi, High Art, and a great little movie called Slam, and I still cherish the battle I got into with fellow juror Paul Schrader over whether Vincent Gallo’s personality should disqualify him for the director award. (I lost; it did.)
3 The press screening of Chuck & Buck in 2000. I walked into this sublimely twisted DV stalker romance knowing nothing about it and walked out feeling that this, as much or more than any movie in my experience, is the reason film festivals exist.
4 Drinking with Russell Crowe until 4 a.m. in 2002. He was there with a documentary about his band, and I ended up in a bar with him, enjoying a close encounter with Crowe’s intelligence and charm, his surprising sweetness, and — yes — his temper: When the manager asked him to perform ”All Out of Love” with Air Supply member Graham Russell, he lowered those brows as if he were going to shoot bolts out of them.
5 Every time a movie I loathe gets a standing ovation. Sundance audiences are rightly celebrated for their generosity, but the downside is that they tend to treat every abysmally cute heart-tugger, like Pieces of April or Tadpole, as if it were the next Citizen Kane.