Every year around Labor Day, Burning Man’s Black Rock City rises from the dust of an ancient lake bed to become Nevada’s third-largest population center, an ephemeral metropolis with few regulations and no commerce. What began as a small group burning an effigy on a beach has grown into a weeklong festival of over 50,000 attendees and a multimillion-dollar organization with full-time staff, insurance, lawyers — and the accompanying headaches.
Inside Burning Man headquarters in the year leading up to the 2012 event there is constant tension as new realities crash up against principles of artistic freedom and philosophical questions such as, “Is a festival based on radical inclusion selling out?” Burning Man’s journey of transformation holds lessons for any social movement or community that has grown to an unforeseen scale, and asks about the compromises we all may choose to make — or not — in the process of growing up. [mature]
An HIV-positive man undergoes an unusual but intentional experience — the point being to mark an event, a moment in time — through the ancient tradition of hook suspension. The result is his moving, ecstatic, electrifying letting go of fear, doubt, and self-hatred. Ritual puts a different face on the adversity of living with HIV, and serves as a reminder of how resilient our minds, and our bodies, can be. [mature]