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Burning Man Festival

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

This film is the first of two documentaries by Joe Winston on the Burning Man Festival, America's largest countercultural event. "In style and substance, a terrific piece of work! Try to imagine a combination of 'Apocalypse Now,' 'Woodstock' and 'The Road Warrior.'" - Chicago Tribune, August 1996. For over ten years, this unique gathering has been held in a barren spot of the Nevada Desert. Attracting over 30,000 participants, the burning of the Man culminates a five-day carnival of artistic creativity and deviance from societal norms. Celebrants dress in costumes, strut naked, dance in the nude, create religions, race in rocket-powered cars, shoot automatic weapons, or do whatever it is they don't get enough of at home. The festival founder refers to this semi-structured anarchy as "a laboratory for reinventing civilization." Experience it on video - it's cooler and less dusty than actually going out to the desert.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Ow Myeye Productions, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: October 22, 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XQ1O0Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,669 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
If you've heard about the Burning Man Festival, but have never been there, this is the movie for you! Friends of mine go to Burning Man every year, and they talk about it with incredible, wide-eyed enthusiasm. But I never appreciated what they were really so excited about until I saw this movie.

Burning Man is a truly one-of-a-kind event, kind of a Woodstock, Rainbow Gathering, and circus freak show, all rolled into one. You'll never believe what amaing art projects people haul out to the desert in the middle of nowhere. What's more, the people who go to Burning Man become part of a special community, and many find their lives are changed for the better.

Winston's documentary does a great job of showing Burning Man in all it's glory. We get interviews with the organizers and participants from many walks of life. Also, we follow the adventures of the four filmmakers as they try to join in the fun..

If you want to learn more about what truly creative people are up to in this country, you definitely need to see this movie!
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Format: DVD
As someone who participates in the Burning Man Festival, I've become somewhat numb to the many different accounts of the event in the media. For the most part, none of them get it right. The news media is only interested in sensationalizing the event, noting the nudity, hinting at debauchery and drug use. Meanwhile, the "fan movies" made about it are nothing if not reverential in their attitude towards Burning Man, but they tend not to be very interesting otherwise.

The two documentaries on this DVD, by first-time filmmaker Joe Winston, are a huge improvement. The first of these two films captures perfectly the wonderment of arriving at Burning Man for the first time, not knowing what you are in for. The filmmakers are greeted by a fearsome-looking man with a machine gun (they don't do this anymore) who forces them to sing "This Land is Your Land."

The camera then sort of wanders through the event - which has grown much bigger since this movie was made, but retains the same spirit. We meet all sorts of strange and wonderful characters, some of whom do seem pretty wasted, but many of them have fascinating things to say about what it means to be at Burning Man.

That is the key to the festival. Burning Man is something different for everybody. There's no official line on what it is exactly, and no one ever tries to sell you anything. If only the rest of the world could be like that, we'd be in a much better place (a sentiment echoed by several festivalgoers in the documentary.)

The second movie, called "Burning Man: Just Add Couches," gets into more depth as to why the festival is so special to so many people. The filmmakers come back the following year, and set up their own Theme Camp. They participate in the event.
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Format: DVD
The Burning Man Festival has long set the gold standard for countercultural revelry in a desert setting. Combining aspects of raves, rainbow gatherings, pagan celebrations, the festival transcends all these categories to have become an American cultural institution.

Thousands of people drive out to the Nevada desert every summer for a seven-day arts festival which culminates in the burning of an enormous human effigy - the Man. As if the beauty of the desert and the spectacle weren't enough, participants each create their own mini-spectacles, from huge peeing sculptures to rabbit motorcycles to entire night clubs. The result is an entire village, right out of Mad Max, full of improvised technology and nonstop entertainment.

Possibly the most impressive thing about Burning Man is how it has gone on for year after year, and never become commercialized. Aside from the admitedly steep $200 admission fee, nobody ever buys or sells anything, which keeps it from becoming a concert or swap meet, or worse, an MTV-sponsored party.

Joe Winston's documentary movies do a great job of capturing this madness, and shedding some light on the people who put this show on year after year, from the festival organizers on down.

The DVD is broken into two parts. The first movie is essentially a National Geographic travelogue, following a car full of newcomers to Burning Man. Together with them, we marvel at the parade of strange sights and colorful, often naked people.

The second movie finds the same group returning to the festival to set up their own attraction.
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Format: DVD
I live in a region of the country which doesn't feature much in the way of counterculture, but I'd heard of the Burning Man Festival from news reports and stories from my more adventurous friends. None of the things anybody said about it really made me want to camp in the desert for a week, but when I got a look at this DVD - which contains two fifty-minute movies - I changed my mind completely.

The Burning Man Festival which director Joe Winston portrays in his movies is every bit as weird and hedonistic as those brief clips you've seen on CNN suggest - and he even gets to show the (many) naked revels in their full glory. But what never makes it into the news accounts on television is a genuine subculture that seems to have arisen in the Nevada desert, where the annual Burning Man Festival takes place.

Naturally, a lot of young people from the San Francisco Bay area show up to Burning Man to stay high for days on end and frolick without supervision, and Winston captures them with a jaundiced eye. Whether or not these people running around in nothing but blue paint are "liberated" from the contraints of straight society, he leaves up to the viewer - but they are certainly fun to watch.

But, there is much more substance to Winston's documentary. As his fascinating interviews with the festival founders and more intelligent participants reveal, some serious work is being done amidst all the partying.

Many artists come to Burning Man to create work, and none of them seem to be high. Along with various performers, musicians, and rabble-rousers, they form a tight community in their ramshackle tent city. No one is ever seen selling T-shirts or anything else.
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