The Source Family

98 minutes 2013

"I know this sounds insane, but I saw lightning bolts come out of his ears," recalls one of the witnesses in this documentary about the charismatic Jim Baker—aka Father Yod, aka Ya Ho Wha—and the utopian commune he led in the 1970s, first in Los Angeles and later in Hawaii. Baker was a combat marine in World War II (and, according to the film, killed two men back in the States) before he became spiritualized, opened a popular health food restaurant on the Sunset Strip, and began attracting the people who would take part in his grand scheme, which included a busy recording studio. Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille adapted a memoir by Isis Aquarian, one of Yo Ho Wha's wives and the custodian of his legacy; the former disciples interviewed here, now mostly professionals or entrepreneurs in New Agey businesses, seem frank about their leader's excesses, but the wild subject matter cries out for a more objective treatment.

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