Demonstrators: ‘make film, not war’
Demonstrators on Main Street Thursday, including the director whose film opened the Sundance Film Festival, railed against the Bush administration, condemning the president’s plans to send more troops to Iraq and screaming, "war is insanity."
The demonstration did not draw more than 50 people at one time, the Park City Police Department said, and, as has been the case before during the film festival, the event ended with far fewer people than predicted by the organizers, who had hoped for at least a few hundred.
There appeared to be few Parkites in the group and most of the demonstrators seemed to be people with ties to the entertainment industry and in Park City for the festival.
The demonstrators urged people to "stop the killing," "stop the escalation," "start the revolution" and "make film, not war."
"A lot of us sat on the sidewalks at the beginning, wanting to support our country. That time is over," said Brett Morgen, who made Sundance’s opening-night film, "Chicago 10," about Vietnam War protesters. "We’ve got to get the hell out of there. We have to get out of Iraq now."
He said Bush’s planned troop increase will not succeed because military force will not end the insurgency in Iraq. After his premier last Thursday, he considered organizing a march that night from the Eccles Center, where the movie screened, to Main Street, he said.
"I think we all have an obligation to get outside and have our voices heard," Morgen said, alleging that the president has "lied to us."
Scott Beibin, who organized the demonstration and has led protesters on the street previously, is disgusted with the president and claimed that the war is benefiting big business. He alleged "cronyism."
"What there should be is a massive de-escalation," he said, predicting that more U.S. troops in Iraq will "continue to add to the problem."
The demonstration, held at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue, downtown’s busiest corner, did not attract a big crowd and it did not appear that many passersby joined the protesters.
The event was the largest such demonstration of the film festival and it was the latest in a series of similar events since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The festival, which draws crowds that tend to the political left, is seen as an attractive place to hold anti-war protests.
The police did not report problems.
Pete Griffin, a film distributor from Rhode Island, wore frozen crab legs attached to his hands, saying they signified war injuries and "not being able to use your arms properly."
"This is what happens in war," he said, calling the occupation of Iraq "a mess" and "chaos."
Josh Gilbert, a filmmaker from New York City, acknowledged that the troop increase could help put down the insurgency but "it’s a tragic price to pay." He said the president squandered what he describes as a post-Sept. 11 "mandate" to fight terrorism.
"Maybe there’s faith for faith’s sake, hope for hope’s sake," he said about the demonstration.
It was held after a compromise between the organizers and City Hall. The local government initially wanted the protesters to be restricted to a small park at the bottom of Main Street but the two sides struck a late-hour accord to provide space at the intersection, which is more centrally situated.
Morgen, the filmmaker, quipped that a celebrity could have drawn more people to the demonstration.
"We need Justin Timberlake," he said.
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