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The Source

Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos's documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the Source Family, a Southern California experiment in healthy, communal living that devolved into a quasi-authoritarian polygamist cult exiled to Kauai, where things eventually took a turn for the worse. At the center of the film is the imposing paterfamilias and self-styled guru, Father Yod (birth name Jim Baker), a herculean Judo master and savvy restaurateur whose trendy Source restaurant (immortalized in Woody Allen's Annie Hall) served as the crucible and financial engine for his spiritual movement. The Source Family was obsessed with self-documentation, and Wille and Demopoulos make ample use of the wealth of photos, audiotapes, and home movies the Family managed to accrue over its short existence. Preeminent among these documents are the family's musical recordings. Under the name YaHoWha 13, several of the Source Family's more musically inclined members-including Father Yod on vocals and timpani-produced a massive catalog of cult psychedelic albums beloved by record collectors and musicians (a certain Smashing Pumpkins songwriter even makes an appearance as one of the film's talking heads). This is a thoroughly researched and enormously entertaining examination of one of the 1970s counterculture's strangest “families.”

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