01/27/2012 12:21 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2012

'The Surrogate,' With Helen Hunt And John Hawkes, Picks Up Biggest Sundance Sale So Far

John Hawkes is no stranger to Sundance. Though he's still not quite a household name, he's managed to achieve a certain indie ubiquity in Park City over the years -- featured in 2011's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and picking up an Oscar nomination for his role in another Sundance favorite, "Winter's Bone."

This year, Hawkes is back at the festival with "The Surrogate," which, judging from its reception at its premiere this week, looks to be an early contender for next year's Oscar season.

The film follows a poet dying of polio (Hawkes) who hires a "sex surrogate" (Helen Hunt) to take his virginity before he dies. The Australian director Ben Lewin, who helmed "The Surrogate," had polio a child and lost the use of his legs. At the Q&A after the premiere of the film at Sundance, Lewin -- who approached the stage on crutches -- and Hawkes received a rapturous standing ovation.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Fox Searchlight has already picked up the rights to that film for $6 million, making it the biggest sale of the festival thus far. Other films, like Bradley Cooper's "The Words" and Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg's "Celeste and Jesse Forever" have sold for $3.5 million and $2 million, respectively.

Speaking with New York Magazine, Hawkes said he's not a big fan of the spotlight. "It's been a lot of talking about myself and the film, a lot of photographs and things," he said. "No offense, it’s not my favorite part about the process, but I do want to help the film."