The story at the Sundance 2000 awards ceremony was not “Girlfight” and “You Can Count On Me,” which dominated the jury selections in the dramatic feature competition, but juror Kevin Smith’s irreverent shtick. In presenting the awards, the director of “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” began with a letter from his “friend” Bob (Robert Redford). In the faux-note, addressed to the audience, Bob stated that wanted “all” to know that he “was better than Dustin Hoffman in “All the President’s Men”” and that he “rocked hard!” The post signature was the capitalizing moment, “PS f**k Slamdance,” Smith added with droll aplomb.
The alarm to such wit — funny as it may be — if you stop and think about it; is that these two men (Redford guilty by way of Smith’s mouth) are independent film icons tearing down an alternative indie venue. Wasn’t Sundance set up to give the unheard filmmaker a voice? Wasn’t Slamdance born out of Sundance’s overspill, when its success made it more competitive, more commercial and less of a forum for first-time filmmakers? Most Sundance filmmakers seemed amused and unthreatened by the many, mini, alterno-dances and applaud them for what they are. Why Smith, an indie darling, would stop to slam Slamdance is perplexing. True it may be a thorn in its stepmother’s side, but Slamdance is hardly a threat to Park City’s cine-throne.
Smith continued his hilarious dialogue by spoofing the jury’s tough decision process; “It came down to throwing down with Maslin [former NY Times film critic, Janet] in a steel cage.” Smith admitted he was no match, “she’s tougher than a longshoreman and cusses just as much.” It’s an unsavory image, but Smith’s delivery was devilish, delectable and a breath of fresh air to the evening’s perfunctory proceedings.