Other directors in Sundance's dramatic competition practiced their acceptance speeches during the fest's awards. Not Shane Carruth. The mind behind the tech thriller ''Primer'' was so convinced he wouldn't win, he just thought about ''how short the winner was going to look'' next to presenter Danny Glover. Then Glover named ''Primer'' the victor, and a shocked Carruth was feeling big indeed.
Carruth, 31, a Dallas software engineer with no filmmaking background, spent only $7,000 making his enigmatic movie about two engineers who accidentally invent a time-travel device. Before the awards, the film's only buzz was from the heads of viewers trying to decipher the cryptic plot. ''I designed the film to get the core part of the plot the first time,'' says Carruth, who advises multiple viewings. ''If you have faith, there's more in there.'' As of press time, no deal had been struck, but whoever wins the bidding will no doubt support the repeat-business suggestion.