Chuck Jaffee
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Review: Taking a trip with 'The Source Family'

“You can do whatever you want, as long as you’re kind.” So spoke the guru, the father, the magnet of a 1970s hippie community called The Source Family.

Curiously, this spiritual leader encouraged one of his doting ladies to photograph and videotape the goings-on of this alternative lifestyle. Integrating interviews done decades later with former commune members, the film “The Source Family” is a window to a window. It’s heady and visceral. It is an opportunity, effectively edited.

Below are a bevy of questions. See “The Source Family” and keep an eye out for any answers you might find in this film.

- Can it be that being kind is not as simple as it seems? (And does kindness get dwarfed by other personal inclinations?)

- How much kumbaya is too much kumbaya (And does second-hand kumbaya threaten other people’s health?)

- Is being idealistic stupid? (And is there a way to be partially idealistic in such a way that you can keep it from crossing over to stupid? And can stupid be better than smart?)

This documentary is a surprisingly objective account. It knows that wishful and cynical tensions will well up in different viewers in different ways. The questions keep on coming. (Your source and destination may vary.)

- Is sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll an irresistible package? (And how many different meanings are there in all the eyebrows it raises?)

- Why do we hanker for the other shoe to drop? (And when and why should we put our foot in it?)

- Are spirituality and godliness good travel partners? (And might godliness have a better sense of direction? And can good travel partners ever really lose their way?)

People who experienced The Source Family were fundamentally affected by a charismatic figure in their lives. From the inside and the outside and beyond, people have always been suckers for charisma. (Lollipop, lollipop; oh, lolli lolli lolli; lollipop, lollipop ….)

See “The Source Family” (at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Nevada Theatre). Wherever you are in the realms of longing and dismissiveness (and parenthetical musings), this film is a trip.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at

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The Union Updated May 16, 2013 10:58PM Published May 16, 2013 10:58PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.