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Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock (2005)

BURNING MAN: BEYOND BLACK ROCK goes behind the scenes of a social revolution to explore the philosophy that fuels it, the social contract that drives it, and the transcendent experience ... See full summary »

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Ross Asseltine ...
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David Best ...
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Kelly Best ...
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Molly Best ...
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Jess Bobier ...
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Ada Lee Chester ...
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Ranger Danger ...
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Harley K. Dubois ...
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M.B. Hanrahan ...
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BURNING MAN: BEYOND BLACK ROCK goes behind the scenes of a social revolution to explore the philosophy that fuels it, the social contract that drives it, and the transcendent experience that makes it a worldwide cultural force. Granted unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Burning Man organization, the filmmakers spent 18 months with the founders, organizers, artists and participants to document the full complexity and diversity of the Burning Man community. But, true to its title, the film goes beyond the city they raise in the desert - revealing the Burning Man's plans to bring its unique culture to the rest of the world. BEYOND BLACK ROCK tells, for the first time ever, the real story of Burning Man - from the inside out. Written by William Haskins

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For the First Time Ever, the Real Story of Burning Man, from the Inside Out.

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5 November 2005 (USA)  »

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Unsatisfying documentary by un-experienced filmmakers
8 May 2005 | by (San francisco) – See all my reviews

I believe the filmmakers started with the best intentions, trying to show the people behind the event, and depict them as the regular people that surrounds us in our everyday life.

The movie could be an honest picture about the organizers, but I just noticed that the associative producer is one of the senior staff member of the Burning Man organization.

It feels they got overwhelmed by too much footage, and wanted to stuff it all in less than 2 hours. Their original cut was 3 hours long. The results is hard to watch. The beginning is a series of clips you don't have time to see. The eye is not able to see the first 3 frames of a new clip, and in that beginning section each clip must be about 1/2 to a 1 second long.

After those beginning clips, with which you haven't even had time to sit down and let your mind be immersed into the subject of the film, you jump right into an artist studio in new-york, and then some of the well-known organizers tell you how deep of an experience Burning Man is. I was ready to believe it, but I haven't seen anything yet, that we're already jumping to conclusions...

The film goes on like this, from one clip to another. There isn't a strong feel that there's a story or a structure behind the movie. It is quite disconcerting. The interviews go from one truth to another. The editor tries to touch you with very voyeuristic moments of David Best, to show you how amazing this man is. It feels very cheesy, even if I, as a person know pretty well what the temple means, what the dedication of the team that builds it is.

I can't imagine how much a viewer who is unfamiliar with the event and the culture that surrounds it will get a good "feel" of why Burning Man is so popular. It is missing the exact point that I believe the filmmakers have tried to convey: Burning Man is quite mind-blowing the first time you go there, and only well filmed visuals might give a sense of this, AND there really are small communities that have grown out of it. These point are touched very shallowly, and technical aspects such as how big the playa is, how many men it takes to build the infrastructure of the event, etc.. are too often brought up at the expense of the human story behind Burning Man.

To respond to other comments posted. The intention of the filmmakers were to give a "feel" of what Burning Man is, as it was stated by the producer during a showing in San Francisco. People who go to Burning Man have extended knowledge about the event, and will understand quickly what every reference made in the movie is about. They will be able to make the connections between clips.

My comments are more a critic on the contents of the documentary itself. But if you are a Burning Man attendee, you might enjoy this movie, just like you could enjoy a home movie that your friends have made about the event, as it brings you back good memories. As a cinematic experience, I'm still waiting for a true documentary about Burning Man.


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