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the burning man festival

Documentary film, 40 mins., 1996

Filmmaker Joe Winston and his friends drive up an abandoned highway in Nevada, turn off the road at the white "X," where a jolly man with a machine gun welcomes them to the Burning Man Festival.

The annual event attracts thousands of people to a barren desert for one week each summer. They bring their own food, water, and shelter. The ragtag collection of tents and RVs is the setting for an eccentric, colorful bacchanalia.

Far from the watchful eyes of police, revelers adopt "desert names," strut naked, dance in the mud, create religions, race in rocket-powered cars, shoot automatic weapons, or do whatever it is they don't get enough of at home.

On the last day, they erect and burn a 40-foot tall human effigy.

The festival founder calls this semi-structured anarchy "a laboratory... for reinventing civilization."

Festival screenings:

  • 1996 Coffee Achievers Festival, San Francisco, CA. "Best of Festival" award
  • 1997 NY International Independent Film Festival, New York, NY. "Best Documentary" award
  • 1998 Burning Man Film Festival, San Francisco, CA
  • 1998 Around the Coyote Festival, Chicago, IL

Burning Man DVD

Own the Special Edition Burning Man Festival, which includes the original documentary plus the sequel, Burning Man: Just Add Couches.

Buy it now at Amazon!