Community Bonfire Will Be Sundance Highlight This Week
The Sundance Film Festival is adding a new event this year—a Community Bonfire, which will take place at the Flagpole Parking Lot, near the bottom of Swede Alley, on Thursday January 30th
Tabitha Jackson, who is director of the documentary film program for the festival, said they wanted to celebrate the Utah community that comes together for Sundance.
“But it’s very hard to kinda feel that sometimes, with the craziness of the festival and the credentials and the passes and the kind of, going into cinemas. So where is it that we can gather as a community—the artists at the festival, the people of the town, schoolchildren. So we thought this year, why don’t we try and create a space. And the most fun and appropriate thing, maybe, is to have a bonfire. Because since the dawn of time, we have gathered around the fire to tell stories.”
She said the bonfire falls under a theme they’re using for some of their off-screen events, called “Imagined Futures.”
“We wanted to have a sense, as we live in these complicated and troubled times, that we can have a part in building our own future. We just have to imagine it. So the bonfire is part of a number of activities that is about us saying, as a community, we can imagine the future we want to live in. And we can come together in this collective act of imagination, celebrate each other, and go forward into the year with a bit of hope.”
In addition, the material used for the fire will have a special significance.
“The fire itself is gonna be built of wooden pallets. We’re gonna be leaving five or six of those wooden pallets around the festival. They’ll be one at the Sheraton, one in the wait list tent—so that people can write on the pallet the future that they wish to imagine. Take a Sharpie, write on the pallet. And then those pallets will form the foundation of the fire, and all those wishes will be sent up into the air.”
Jackson said the gathering starts at about 4:30, lighting of the fire is 4:45 and the gathering goes on about an hour after that.
The event will include the Park City High School Choir, a Native American group called Red Spirit, artist/refugees who came from Rwanda and Burundi to Salt Lake, as well as festival director John Cooper. And participants in the Sundance Power of Story panel that afternoon—such as actors Ethan Hawke and Viggo Mortenson—might come down from the Egyptian Theatre for the event.
And in case you’re thinking that a bonfire isn’t a very Green activity, she said they’re mindful of that.
“We are doing carbon offsets against the bonfire that we’re making. That entails just doing carbon off-sets. There are companies, and you tell them what you’re doing. And they calculate how much carbon you’ll be putting into the atmosphere, and you pay an amount of money to off-set that carbon, so that they can plant trees and so on.”
Jackson added that they’re holding some film screenings under the theme “Imagined Futures”. These will be followed by conversations, going 40 minutes or so, that will be deeper than the usual Q and A’s.
For instance, one screening features the dramatic film “Assistant” dealing with labor rights and the MeToo movement
Another, she said, is the documentary “Crip Camp”
“Which is about an incredible group of people, young people with disabilities who go to a camp, youth camp. They turn out to be some of the most powerful, independent people for the disability-rights movement as they get older.”
Documentary programmer Tabitha Jackson.