Truly CA

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During the radical fervor of the late 1960s and early 1970s, utopian communities dotted the country. They aimed to reshape the world with free love and common property, and they conjured up wariness and fear amongst the local, often rural, neighbors. Though the idea of communes is now often relegated to a naive past, Commune discovers a successful and lasting, if controversial, legacy at the influential Black Bear Ranch, in Siskiyou County, California.

Premised on the idea of "Free Land for Free People," and financed by the largesse of Hollywood rock stars, the founders of Black Bear bought a rural, abandoned gold mine and raised a rough-hewn homestead. Soon the fragile bonds of human connection became frayed, especially when the group discovered that each person had a totally different idea of what utopia might look like ... and that "free love" wasn't so free after all.

Over the years, hundreds joined the community, and life would be complicated by growing conflicts about the role of women, child-rearing, proper communalist behavior, the FBI, and most traumatically, a cult. With archival footage and the candid present-day views of Black Bear members and their offspring, Commune is a revealing look at how our most basic choices about family, work, and relationships can send powerful and lasting shock waves through the fabric of communities, nations, and the world.

[Original air date: Sun, Jul 11, 2010]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

Jonathan Berman

Read more about Jonathan Berman, filmmaker of Commune.


Commune: Crew & Credits

Producer and Director
Jonathan Berman

Marisa Simpson
Michael Taylor

Elliott Sharp

Zed Frick

Alan Deutsch
Tamas Bojtor
Rob Vanalkemade
Jonathan Berman

Additional Camera
Kevin White
Frazier Bradshaw

The People
Aaron Marley and family
Amir Bey
Andy Getz and Sharon
The Beavers
Catherine Guerra
Efrem Korngold
Elsa Marley
Geba Greenberg
Harriet Beinfield
Hoss Bennett and Earl
Karuna and Allegra
Kish Bear
Kenoli Oleari
The Residents of Fairview House
Larry Bacon
Les Harding
Mahaj and Cedar
Malcolm and Susan
Martin Linhart
Michael Tierra
Osha Neumann
Peter Coyote
Peter Leaf
Rachel Newmann
Richard Marley
Sara and Rex
Shem, Natasha, Ethan, Erica
Yeshi Neumann

The Places
Black Bear Ranch
Godfrey Ranch
Siskiyou Daily News
Salmon River Restoration Council
Siskiyou Historical Society

Milestones (1975)
By Robert Kramer and John Douglas

Portapak Video
The Tribal Vision Archive (c. 1968)
Courtesy of Loren Sears

Summer '68 (1968)
Directed by Newsreel
Courtesy of Roz Payne

Feel My Pulse (1928)
Directed by Gregory La Cava

Peter Coyote in Main Line (2004) aka Shadow of Fear
Courtesy of Millennium Films and Two Sticks Productions

All songs written and performed by Elliott Sharp
Except New Day Coming, performed by the Lilies

The Ballad of Cedar and Mahaj
Written and performed by Cedar Seeger

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