The story of The Farm, America’s largest hippie commune, comes to the big screen on Friday, July 26, 2013, at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The feature length documentary, American Commune, from filmmakers Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo, tells the personal story of the people who co-founded this spiritual community and lived and raised their kids there.
In 1970, a group of 250 hippies from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury were following their ideals and their spiritual teacher, Stephen Gaskin, as they set out to “Save the World” in a tour of major US colleges and universities. After spending six months on the road in a caravan of school buses outfitted like campers, they had coalesced as a community. They settled in Summertown, TN, forty miles from the home of the Ku Klux Klan, on 1750 acres of land, which became The Farm.
Making it by their wits, on a mission to do and be good, they built a town and all its systems from scratch in the middle of nowhere. College kids without many practical survival skills, they apprenticed to each other, learning carpentry, farming, auto repair, and even midwifery, and were mentored by the locals, from whom they learned how to build, plant, grow, harvest, and preserve much of what they needed.
I was one of those idealists, originally coming from a Jewish family of immigrants. My parents had worked their way from poverty through high school and college to professional careers. The last thing my parents would have wanted was for me to drop out of UC Berkeley just shy of graduation, marry a non-Jew, and live as a voluntary peasant.
My daughters, who are the filmmakers, give voice to the Farm’s second generation and what it was like to be: raised in an attempted Utopian society, transplanted to Los Angeles when our family left, and shaped by our unusual lifestyle. The movie also profiles my life and my peers’ in a very personal way. It’s the real deal, the inside scoop, and poignant, to boot.
If you’re in the Bay Area and have been fascinated with the legacy of the hippies, come see this movie! You can buy tickets here for the Friday night premiere and two other screenings. Come say “hi.” I’ll be there on Friday 7/26 along with my daughters, who will do a Q & A after the movie.