The Source Family | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Source Family

A documentary about am early 1970s Los Angeles cult that ate veggies and rocked


Maybe you already know about the 1970s Los Angeles-based free-love-and-vegetables cult known as the Source Family? Among its distinctions, the group fronted a rock band, YaHoWa 13, which recorded several psych-rock LPs treasured by vinyl collectors (and since digitally re-released).

Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille's documentary recounts the rise and fall of the Source Family, which grew out of a successful vegetarian restaurant on the Sunset Strip. The leader was the charismatic Father Yod, who established a commune in the Hollywood Hills for the exploration of utopian living, mysticism and "sex magick." In the early 1970s, the group prospered, even drawing celebrities, but ultimately fell to the twin perils of most cults: internal struggles with egos and external struggles with legal authorities.

In the film, former Family members recount their involvement, supplemented by archival footage. Fortunately for the filmmakers, the supremely confident Yod had early on appointed a Family historian, who took photographs, and made audio and film recordings, many of which are incorporated here. (The Family was so committed to documentation that footage includes both a birth and a deadly accident.)

This is a must-see for those interested in cults and the various peculiar communal living experiments of the late 1960s and early '70s. Perhaps the real surprise is how positive many of former members remain (the men more so than the women, who had less control over their fates in the group), and what variety of lives they pursued after the Source Family disbanded.

7 p.m. Fri., June 7; 9:15 p.m. Sat., June 8; and 4:30 p.m. Sun., June 9. Hollywood (Al Hoff) CP Approved

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