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Editor | Peter Bowen

Sundance Under Attack?

Posted November 11, 2008


In the days after California passed Prop 8, an initiative to push California to create an constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, citizens across the country have been hopping mad. In California, daily protests have marched on churches and especially Mormon temples, angrily denouncing their part in funding the “Yes on 8” campaign. Especially odious to many Californians is that a religion centered in Utah should’ve allocated millions of dollars to influence an election in another state.

In light of this, various boycott campaigns have sprung up––against Utah Mormon business, and most recently the Sundance Film Festival. In a post entitled “Why is the Sundance Film Festival taking place in the Hate State of Utah?”, AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis first suggested the idea of quashing America’s preeminent festival. Soon others picked up the flame. At “The Hot Blog,” David Poland asked the question, “What Would Harvey Do?,” looking back to Harvey Milk (whose 1978 political fight against another homophobic campaign is portrayed in Focus Features’ Milk).

indieWIRE reported yesterday on the Festival’s reaction to a possible boycott. "It would be gravely disappointing to us if the Sundance Film Festival were to be singled out for a boycott. We bring together a diverse range of independent voices and we remain committed to create a dialogue around critical issues," she added.” Sundance Film Festival director of programming John Cooper, who recently married his long-term partner, reiterated this point to indieWIRE: “Our location in Utah puts us in the heart of America which makes our mission just that much more important. Through the last 25 years this irony has not been lost on me...even though I usually don't talk about it in these terms."

Others have jumped into the debate. Andrew Sullivan in the “The Daily Dish” points out that “A reminder that not all of Utah and not all Mormons are anti-equality.” The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick called the proposed ban “An Unfortunate Reponse to the Gay-Marriage Ban.” Spout’s Karina Longworth took the temperature of the Independent film world, finding the desire for a boycott lacking. But this debate seems far from over.