Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Spark: A Burning Man Story": A Monster Rises in the Desert 

Wednesday, Sep 4 2013

Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter's documentary Spark: A Burning Man Story is a monster movie, an updating of Frankenstein. The creature is the annual Burning Man festival, born in the 1980s when a modern Prometheus decided to burn a wooden effigy on a San Francisco beach. (Archival video reveals there were already drum circles: clearly, portents of doom.) The creature grew into a weeklong event in the Nevada desert, but the bigger it got the less controllable it became; attendance reached an unmanageable 10,000 by 1996, and a shift in the wind caused the climactic Burning of the Man to become (even more) dangerous. In 2012, a new ticketing system ("Don't call it a lottery!") to deal with the 60,000 souls at the gates resulted in a PR nightmare, one which Brown and Deeter were quite fortunate to be around to film. Like most monster movies, the third act of Spark: A Burning Man Story is the creature in full rampage mode, full of neon light and belching fire and thumping techno — all in the name of self-expression and art for everyone (who can afford to be there), yet looking like empty spectacle for those watching from a safe distance. And, most chillingly, we see similar monsters being born around the world. The cycle continues.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"