Burning Man and the Meaning of Life Director Asked the Big Questions; Delray Beach Film Premiere on December 1

Categories: Film and TV
burning man photo booth.jpg
Julie Pifher
The video confessional booth where Burners answered the question, "What is the meaning of life?"

Burning Man is... Well, even the official website for Burning Man says that it's "like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind." Basically, it's a monthlong communal-living experiment that takes place every summer from the last Monday in August to the first Monday in September in the Black Rock desert of northern Nevada.

The entire community exists as a combination of a gifting economy and basic self reliance, nothing is bought or sold. Bring what you need and some to share. There are no rules governing one's behavior or dress. It is life at the other end of the spectrum. Almost 50,000 people come together and build a temporary city in the desert, and then they burn it all down and leave the desert even cleaner than when they found it.

And this is the place where young but already noteworthy documentary filmmaker Julie Pifher decided to ask "the Question" for her new documentary, Burning Man and the Meaning of Life, making its world theatrical premier December 1 at Movies of Delray.

"I had this idea six years ago. I was in film school at the time and learning about the meaning of life in a philosophy class and thinking about that in terms of my own life. And then I got to talking with a friend of mine, and we were saying wouldn't this be cool to go to this thing, I wonder what it's like, it must be so cool. And then I thought, that would be such a cool thing to ask these people, who are really out there, really open-minded, really just kind of different from your everyday -- or who are in a different environment than your everyday -- what they think the meaning of life is."

Pifher had never been to Burning Man before she went to film her documentary. In addition to a traditional crew armed with two cameras conducting interviews, they set up a special booth designed to capture the Burners at their most unguarded and honest.

"We built this big photo booth, soundproof booth, in the middle of the desert, and it had a motion sensored camera, so every time someone came into the booth, it recorded them. There were questions on the walls, just some things to point them in the right direction. We had hundreds of people throughout the week come into that booth and be really honest. In one clip, somebody is crying; in another, people are just laughing and having a good time. Somebody had sex in our booth; some people definitely did drugs in the booth."

The wild costumes and uninhibited behavior in the trailer are enough to reaffirm beliefs that Burning Man is nothing more than a big hippie party in the desert. But Pifher had an instinct that people who voluntarily trek into the middle of the desert to commune might have a perspective worth exploring, and her hunch was right.

Location Info


Movies of Delray

7421 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, FL

Category: Film

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