In the 1990s, the Sundance Film Festival was a breeding ground for indie moviemakers looking to achieve worldwide acclaim. It's the venue that turned Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Jim Jarmusch, and Paul Thomas Anderson into household names. And in 1994 it chose Kevin Smith as its poster child, when he premiered his sub-$26,000 black-and-white Clerks.
The film struck a chord with young viewers—and filmmakers—across the country and went on to gross more than $3 million in theaters. It also made a star of Smith's own character in the film, Silent Bob, who—true to his name—remained silent for most of the film. But like other indie filmmakers of his generation, Smith's presence in his own films offer some of his movies' best scenes; it's not Oscar-worthy acting, but it's genuine.