Time for a recap of the notable, and sometimes downright strange, moments from the Awards Ceremony of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival:
Most awkward cold open: After the PA announcer lavishly introduced emcee Parker Posey, festival director John Cooper steps out to announce that Posey has taken ill and wouldn't be appearing. Only after actress-director Katie Aselton (“Black Rock”) came in to pinch-hit was it clear that this wasn't a gag.
Best tribute: Festival director John Cooper reading an open letter from the friends of indie-film supporter Bingham Ray, who died during the festival.
Strangest tribute: Edward James Olmos calling up 87-year-old director Robert M. Young up to the stage, in an apparently unscripted (except by Olmos) testimonial. Even Young demurred a bit, saying, “Eddie's crazy, I don't deserve to be up here.”
Best advice: Director Ben Lewin (“The Surrogate”), told the crowd, “Don't sleep with the leading lady. Sleep with the producer.” His producer, Judi Levine, is also his wife.
Steamiest advice: From Camila Gutiérrez, one of the writers of the Chilean drama “Young & Wild”: “My English is not so good, so thanks and have lots of sex.”
Best second chance: Producer Nicholas Bruckman, representing the Indian film “Valley of Saints,” who missed accepting the Alfred P. Sloan Prize – but got to make up for it when the movie won the World Cinema Audience Award. “My only job was to get to the Awards Ceremony, and I just barely made it,” he said.
Best Ricky Gervais moment: Comic Mike Birbiglia, before announcing the Audience Award winners, took a ding at festival sponsor Acura: “When you're making an independent film, the first thing you do is choose your luxury sedan.”
Most unfortunate omission: Director Macky Alston, in his acceptance speech for the special jury prize for his documentary “Love Free or Die,” thanked his producers and the people at Sundance. He neglected to mention the subject of his documentary, New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.
Best participatory moment: Alison Klayman, receiving a special jury prize for her documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” asked the audience to flip the bird to her camera – for a photo she planned to send to Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist. “He'll be seeing that,” she said.
Best Utah connection: U.S. Documentary Directing Award winner Lauren Greenfield “The Queen of Versailles” thanked her producers – including Utah Film Center founder Geralyn White Dreyfous – for seeing “a social issue where others saw a reality show.”
Cutest moment: When “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was awarded the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, director Benh Zeitlin tried to get his child star, Quvenzhané Wallis, to speak to the audience. Wallis, very forcefully, declined: “I got nothing to say. That's why I told you to talk to the mic.”
Sean P. Means