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I can't remember when I first met Bob Hawk; it seems I have always known him. Bob tells me it was when he started writing capsules for the Sundance Film Festival film guide and catalog, which I edited for 26 years.

Hawk was a member of Sundance's Advisory Selection Committee, a group recruited to recommend films before the fledgling festival had a full staff of programmers. As exhibition coordinator of San Francisco's Film Arts Foundation, "I had my finger on the pulse of the Bay Area independent film scene," he says. Later, he became an independent producer and consultant (a title he probably coined) based in New York.

At our annual lunch a year ago, Bob confided — somewhat shyly — that two young filmmakers, JJ Garvine and Tai Parquet, were making a film about him. And now, that film — "Film Hawk" — is part of the Documentary Premieres program at the Sundance Film Festival.

No one is more surprised that there's a film about him than Bob Hawk, but 30 years of helping independent filmmakers shape their work make him an obvious choice.

"Bob's life is all about independent film," Garvine says. "He's given his life to the art, and there are a lot of people he's helped, and they're all in the film."

The first of these people is documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein.

Hawk, as a gay man originally involved in theater, moved to San Francisco in the 1970s, met Epstein and did all the news-clipping research for the Academy Award–winning "The Times of Harvey Milk." He has also consulted on several of Epstein's other documentaries.

His best-known discovery is Kevin Smith's cult-film classic "Clerks," a film he describes as the "cinematic equivalent of a garage band." Hawk was part of a disappointingly small audience when the film screened at the 1993 Independent Feature Film Market, but he thought "Clerks" was "the undiscovered gem of the marketplace." He told everyone he saw about the film, including "Village Voice" film critic Amy Taubin, and recommended "Clerks" for the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Filmmakers Trophy and launched Smith's career. The two have remained collaborators and close friends, and Smith credits Hawk with "discovering the artist" in him.

Other filmmakers in "Film Hawk" who talk of his impact include David Siegel and Scott McGehee ("Suture," "The Deep End"), Ed Burns ("The Brothers McMullen"), Barbara Hammer ("Nitrate Kisses") and Kimberly Reed ("Prodigal Sons").

Garvine and Parquet wanted to avoid "talking-head interviews," so instead the film captures Hawk conversing with these filmmakers. Parquet calls Hawk "an unfiltered conversationalist," and Siegel observes that "Bob is comfortable in his own skin."

"Bob has an infectious passion about film and life," Parquet says, and he talks about a lot more than film in "Film Hawk."

Garvine and Parquet were surprised and pleased at how open Hawk was as a subject. "He knew he would tell some stories that didn't make him look good," Garvine says, "and he was OK with that as long as we truthfully told the story."

Garvine and Parquet met Hawk when he consulted on their first documentary, "Keeping the Peace." They describe themselves as "do-it-yourself" filmmakers from Wilmington, Del. After they spent some time with him, "I started thinking, 'Bob is the story,' " Garvine says, but Bob took some convincing that he was an interesting enough subject for a full-length documentary. "How about a short?" he asked. They started shooting, and the film "was something that just grew … like bacteria," Hawk says, with a laugh.

"We had to tiptoe him into it," Garvine says. In a way, the filmmakers Hawk mentored ended up mentoring him.

Ultimately, "Film Hawk" is about family. We meet Hawk's real family in the film, but in a very vital way, the filmmakers he has helped through the years and the friends he has made at Sundance are his family. He stays in touch with them, and the professional and personal ties that connect them are the heartbeat of this film. I feel fortunate to be one of those friends. —

"Film Hawk"

The documentary has two more screenings, both in Park City:

• Wednesday, Jan. 27, 6 p.m. at the Temple Theatre

• Saturday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m. at Redstone Cinema 1