"Utopia" Comes to Sundance [NSFW]

This week an intriguing new film, Utopia in Four Movements, screened at Sundance. It explores the way people in the past imagined the future. We can't wait for it to bust out of the festival circuit.

So far only a few handfuls of people have seen the film (a "live documentary," screened with performances by San Francisco musician David Cerf and Brooklyn band the Quavers).

Utopia looks at various disparate seeming images and issues — Lenin's revolution, the J,G. Ballard/George Romero-like abandonment of the world's largest shopping mall, Esperanto and nudist communes.

"Utopia" Comes to Sundance [NSFW]

Peggy Orenstein touched on the movie in a recent article in The New York Times Magazine, "The Coast of Dystopia," about how economic and cultural pressures were moving California out of the "utopia" category:

This month, Sam Green, a documentarian who, like me, is a Midwestern transplant to the Bay Area, will screen "Utopia in Four Movements" at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie explores early-20th-century faith in a perfectable, socially engineered future - for instance, that adopting Esperanto as a universal language would put an end to war. "In general, that joy in imagining the future doesn't happen anymore," Green told me. "People can only envision it as a continuation of current problems. And in California, rather than having this fantastic notion of what could be, people are now just trying to hang on. It's such a lowering of ambition and expectation."

Here is a whimsical interview with Green — whose The Weather Underground was nominated for an Academy Award — on The Rumpus, and here a video interview with the director on the world's largest shopping mall.

"Utopia" Comes to Sundance [NSFW]

Here is a slide show of images.

Utopia, of course, means "nowhere" or "not place" in Greek, so it's no surprise that this impulse for perfection doesn't always end well.

Images courtesy Utopia in Four Movements