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Movie review: 'Source Family' traces the half-life of a '70s cult

Published May 17, 2013 2:49 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Hippies didn't get much more hip than the members of the California cult depicted in the fascinating and freaky documentary "The Source Family."

It starts in the early 1970s with a Sunset Strip health-food restaurant that drew celebrities such as Warren Beatty and John Lennon to sample its organic goods. Those working the restaurant were all followers of Father Yod, a larger-than-life spiritual leader who taught a mishmash of religious beliefs and fronted his own rock band (whose music makes up the film's soundtrack). But Yod's beliefs — which include amassing 14 wives and preaching about an impending apocalypse — alienate some followers (including his first wife, Mother Yod) and draw attention from authorities.

Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille use a wealth of archival material and get insightful interviews from former disciples, some still believers and other highly skeptical, that illuminate both Yod's strange aura and the '70s travails that made the leader's message so attractive.

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'The Source Family'

Opens Friday, May 10, at the Tower Theatre; not rated, but probably R for nudity, sexuality, drug use and language; 98 minutes.