Burning Man started as a solstice celebration on a San Francisco beach for 20 bohemian friends in 1988. Today it is a megafestival drawing 55,000 artsy souls to the desert in Nevada for eight days around Labor Day weekend. It has experienced major success but also acute growing pains — and these are at the heart of “Spark: A Burning Man Story,” which has some lively moments but falls short of expectations.
Alternative filmmakers Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter (known for directing “Revenge of the Electric Car”) win great access to the eccentric, hippie-rooted founders of Burning Man. But the problem is that we don’t see the festival through the eyes of the fans. Instead the documentary gets bogged down with tedious boardroom arguments among the organizers who are trying to preserve their utopian vision but need to compromise to keep it going as a business enterprise.