Movie Review: The Source Family

by Kelly Maxwell

The Source Family, a new documentary by Maria Demopoulos, is a fascinating journey into the depths of the psychedelic era of the early 1970’s. Opening yesterday at the IFC Center in NYC, the film is set to make the rounds around the country. Get ready for a crazy glimpse into a world that fascinates, repulses, but ends up sticking with you. The film follows the story of Jim Baker, famously known as Father Yod, who led the spiritual collective known as the Source Family. Long robes and long hair… a real crazy trip, dude.

Father Yod was a larger than life figure, judo master, multi-millionaire, and a decorated Marine. He lived a life of psychedelic intrigue and positivily oozed charisma from every pore. Take a look at the guy’s flowing beard, listen to him scream and beat a drum in the middle of a groovy jam session, and you might have been hooked too. By the time of his death, the result of a freak hang-gliding accident, he had thirteen “spiritual wives.” That’s right – thirteen. And they all believed him to be a god.

The material is sourced from past members of the Family, especially from their own historian and documentarian, Isis Aquarian. They tell stories of life in the collective and working in Jim Baker’s restaurant, The Source. Remember the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen’s character orders a plate of “mashed yeast” at the vegetarian restaurant in groovy, like totally zen, LA? That place was The Source… the place to be in LA. Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, and all of the psychedelic glitterati were known to frequent the Sunset Boulevard eatery. It was more than a restaurant… it was the front for the Family.

This documentary is for anyone who has ever been obsessed with cults, the psychedelic era, the music of the late 60’s and 70’s, or any feminist who wants a detailed portrait of free love. Don’t go into it with expectations, because the Family will surprise you.

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