Sunstone is well underway here at the Sheraton in SLC. I’m here with my son (a couple of years ago I brought my daughter). In fact, I’m skipping a session so that I can write this.
The Smith-Pettit lecture last night was really fun. Bengt Washburn gave a hilarious stand-up comedy routine on Mormon themes. John Hatch prepared a video montage of about a dozen representations of Mormons in recent movies and TV shows. And then Mark Pinsky, a journalist from Florida, gave a lecture on religion and pop culture. I love that kind of stuff, so I really enjoyed the evening.
This morning I went to a presentation of short films/coming attractions. First was a prize winner called Muzzle, a very strange film that as far as I could tell was an allegory about masturbation involving a chocolate cake. Next was a clip of The Untold Story of Black Mormons, done by Alex Nibley (apparently deriving from the loins of Hugh–there is a strong resemblance). This was excellent. Then was a clip from The Smith Interviews, which told the story of Joseph Smith from various perspectives using the actual words of the participants. I thought this was well done. Finally was a clip of The Natural Family, about one of those silly natural family resolutions that was passed in Kanab.
Then I went to the Brew and View type place for a screening of States of Grace. I was loathe to do this to some extent, because it burned up two sessions, but I hadn’t seen the movie and I wanted to. I thought it was very well done; I think it may be my favorite “Mormon” movie so far. There was still stuff that I thought was too weird for a non-LDS audience to appreciate. [SPOILER ALERT] For instance, I’m sure most people who do not know Mormon culture would be scratching their heads about why the one missionary would try to kill himself, just because he had slept with the next door neighbor. (Quoting his father’s statement that he would rather him come home in a casket than without honor didn’t cut it.) Still, all in all I liked it.
After lunch, I went to Dennis Potter’s presentation on the Americanization of Mormonism Reflected in Pop Culture. I went to this one mainly because he was showing in toto the South Park All About Mormons episode.
That’s it so far. This afternoon I’ll be on a panel discussing Ed Kimball’s Lengthen Your Stride. Tonight will be a screening of Greg Whiteley’s New York Doll, with comments from Greg; I’m looking forward to that one. And there are still two more days of sessions to come.
I’m starting this thread as a placeholder for anyone here to add notes or comments about the sessions she has attended. I’ll try to add more later, but my access is limited, so no promises.