Friday, October 5, 2007

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 7

And this time I made it leisurely in plenty of time. Of course, the fact that I was only seeing one movie, and it was the 9:15 show, had something to do with it.

The movie was "Free Spirits", a first hand account of the Brotherhood of the Spirit, one of the most successful and most controversial late-60's communes (which actually lasted until the late 80's). The spiritual leader was Michael Metelica (later Michael Rapunzel), and the commune started as 9 friends in a tree house in the rural northeast. Eventually it grew into hundreds if not thousands, recorded an album, started a greeting card company, founded a church, and owned about half of a small Massachusetts town. And it became a microcosm of why communism doesn't work. Michael Rapunzel became a megalomaniacal, controlling, ill-tempered, alcoholic and cocaine addict (in the early days, all drugs were banned). Eventually he was kicked out in 1989, and for all intents and purposes the commune disbanded shortly thereafter (most of the members had left by then anyway). The history is told solely by the members--including archived interviews with Michael Rapunzel--and tells a story of idealism torn apart (except for Michael Rapunzel, who tells a story of how he was wrongly vilified). The first hand accounts are pretty fascinating, and there's some excellent first-hand footage--both photographs and home movies--from the time. Pretty interesting, and makes me glad I'm not some braindead hippie (no matter how many people think so just because of my hair).

And that was Thursday at Docfest. Two more movies tonight, and then a marathon weekend. 4 movies Saturday, then down to Santa Cruz for a 6 movie midnight Secret Film Fest, then back up for another 4 docfest screenings--that's 14 movies without sleeping. Then I plan to die, if I have time.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Jason,

I was googling "Michael Rapunzel" and came across your mini-review of my film, "Free Spirits," that you saw at the SF DocFest. I had hoped to get out there myself, but couldn't do to a family illness.

The film is available on DVD at if anyone's interested.

--Bruce Geisler