Sundance is caught between a Prop and a hard place.
With California’s just-passed Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California (at least for the moment), it was easy to predict the outrage from the gay community.
But then a single outraged blogger floated an outrageous idea — to boycott the Sundance Film Festival in protest of the proposition’s backing by Utah’s Mormon community — and ignited an Internet firestorm.
John Avavosis, editor of Americablog, wrote two sentences that launched a thousand responses: “I think it’s also time for the Sundance Film Festival to leave Utah. And for any gay and gay-friendly producers to pull their films…”
Twenty-four hours later, Associated Press picked up the story, followed by Newsweek and CBS Radio.
Sundance found itself so barraged with calls that it issued a statement expressing disappointment that the fest was being singled out. And many filmmakers came to the org’s defense, citing Sundance’s long commitment to the GLBT community.
While Avavosis says he’s not running a boycott (yet), he does have experience with showbiz protests. He was one of the organizers against a proposed TV yakker featuring Dr. Laura Schlesinger, and claimed his efforts forced Paramount to pull it.
Avavosis sympathizes with Sundance, but believes the fest will have a problem luring Hollywood’s gay community post-Prop 8. “How can you spend money in that awful state two months from now?” he says.
But picking on a state is a slippery slope. One commenter on Variety‘s The Circuit blog pointed out that $23 of the $36 million for the ballot initiative came not from Utah but from California.
“What do we do?,” says one filmmaker, “Boycott the beaches?”
By the end of the week, the storm seemed to be easing, until Avavosis fired again — this time fingering Cinemark CEO Alan Stock as a donor to the Yes on 8 campaign.
Cinemark owns a Park City fourplex used by Sundance. In an already screen-poor town, the fest has no plans to darken those screens.