Separation of Sundance and State

In 2009, Sundance will celebrate 25 years of bringing together international cinema and a variety of cultures in Park City, Utah. But with California's gay community reeling from the passage of Prop. 8, activists and filmmakers are suggesting a boycott of the festival and theater chain Cinemark, whose CEO donated a substantial sum to the marriage ban's campaign. But just how realistic is a boycott of an entire state?

BY Christopher Lisotta

November 21 2008 1:00 AM ET

 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL X100 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

The initial call
for boycotts came at around the same time that Sundance
announced its 2009 opening-night film would be the
full-length claymation feature Mary and Max
from Australian director Adam Elliot. Elliot made
international headlines in 2004 when his Sundance
submission Harvie Krumpet won the Academy Award
for best short film and he thanked his boyfriend
during his acceptance speech. Elliot said in an e-mail that
he is planning on attending the 2009 festival.

“Both
Melanie (my producer) and I are absolutely aware of the
controversy about Proposition 8 and will proudly wear
‘no to 8’ badges on Opening Night at
Sundance,” Elliot wrote. “We don’t feel
entitled to speak on behalf of others, but we do hope
our work, which has accepting difference as a key
theme, will speak for us.”

A spokeswoman for
Sundance said that Mary and Max is
scheduled to screen in a non-Cinemark venue. But when
asked if he would attend other screenings being held at the
Holiday City 4, Elliot wrote, “We are still
gathering information and so many decisions are yet to
be made. We're still trying to work out how to get
there from Australia!”

Cooper said he
understands the sentiment behind the boycott. “I
actually believe in boycotts,” he admitted.
“That’s actually where you get something
done. If you hit people financially, that is what is going
to make people turn around. I think it scares people,
especially in this financial climate. Our relationship
with Cinemark has sadly been a great one. The people
who work there, there are a lot of gay employees.”

As to whether or
not Cooper himself will attend a screening at the
Holiday City 4, he revealed, “I haven’t
decided yet,” noting that the issue of wielding
financial power to create change goes far beyond
Sundance.

“I have to
look into everything I do,” Cooper said. “We
all do, right? That is the question at hand -- what do
we do in our daily lives?"

Tags: film

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