"I Have Been To The Mountain Top"
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Mountaintops offer dynamic vistas and symbolize not only physical heights but inspiring points of prominence.
On the night before he was murdered, Martin Luther King told a packed church in Memphis where he was crusading on behalf of the city's garbage workers, that he had been to the mountain top.
He was practically singing as he bellowed, " Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!"
To him, climbing that mountain also offered him a panoramic view of a world of pain and change. Earlier in that prophetic final oration, he spoke of the human condition.
""the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars."
I have just returned from another mountaintop where the streets are packed with people traipsing through the cold and snow--looking for other stars--movie stars.
The Sundance Film Festival is on, based in the wealthy resort of Park City, Utah, up on a snowy mountain not far from Salt Lake City attracting movie aficionados, show biz wannabes, groupies, and skiers.
Most are there to embrace (or worship) the commanding heights of our culture industry. There were plenty of contradictions on display as well.
The actor Robert Redford who created Sundance seems to have become less infatuated with the annual spectacle. The Hollywood Reporter profiled him, noting, "Redford seems ambivalent about the festival's success, however, hostile to the corporate and marketing forces overwhelmed his counter-cultural creation, while appreciative about everything it has achieved."
Journalists who cover show biz were even less excited, reported Sharon Waxman, editor or the Hollywood website The Wrap:
"If you weren't at Sundance this year, it's just as well. The lack of a breakout, buzzy film that had everyone talking tells us something about the challenged state of independent film. While the festival had glimmers of excitement, the movies were -- in the aggregate -- interesting but not inspiring, thought-provoking but not thrilling.
In short, not essential enough to grab a distracted public's attention."
While most of the consciousness there these days still revolves around commerce and Hollywood type deal-making, some major hard hitting documentaries are shown, films we rarely see on TV.
Ironically, one that I saw, "Concerning Violence" was based on the text of 1960's revolutionary and psychiatrist Franz Fanon who in his bestseller, The Wretched of The Earth wrote that the road to decolonization was inevitably and necessarily a violent one.