During the summer solstice in 1986, Larry Harvey and his bohemian friends decide to burn a wooden man in a bonfire on Baker Beach in San Francisco. Little do they know that this intimate gathering would eventually turn into a cultural phenomenon that draws a crowd of nearly 60,000 people each year to the deserts of Nevada. Now more than 20 years past its origins on that small beach, filmmakers Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter embed themselves with the co-founders, staff and attendees for a year and find themselves witnessing one of the greatest crises that has ever hit the Burning Man community. Idealism and the dreams of the staff and participants clash with the realities of commerce and event management. Is there a way that Burning Man can grow and become relevant in the larger world without betraying its core principles and what made it special in the first place?
SPARK was born out of SXSW itself when Brown attended the SXSW Interactive Conference as a speaker and took the opportunity to attend the film festival, which served as a catalyst for him to pursue his own creative passions and channel them into making a documentary film. “After many years of being involved in tech innovation, it was at SXSW that I got my first taste of the craft of filmmaking, and I realized that film would one day be my creative canvas. It is a dream come true to be back at SXSW with SPARK,” Brown says. “Larry Harvey once described his mission in leading Burning Man as creating a place that would give people permission to act on their dreams. Larry’s advice and Burning Man itself inspired me to take a chance and make this film.”
Filmmakers: Steve Brown & Jessie Deeter
5:15 pm – Sunday, March 10 @ Vimeo Theater
1:45 pm – Wednesday, March 13 @ Alamo Ritz 2
11:15 am – Friday, March 15 @ Vimeo Theater
Photo credit: loupiote.com