In 1968, two hippies hiking near Mt. Shasta in Northern California stumbled across an unlikely property for sale: an abandoned goldmine and surrounding land, 80 acres for $22,000. Fueled by contributions from the Doors, the Monkees, Frank Zappa and others, they bought the property and named it Black Bear Ranch. It quickly became the prototypical 1960s commune, with the motto “Free Land for Free People.”
Utopian communities have always been a part of the United States, but in the 60s and 70s their audacious goal was to reshape the world with free love and common property – creating a revolutionary movement that would spread to the rest of society. But utopia is different for each person, and these experiments often brought strife, jealousy and sometimes even endangered lives.
Featuring interviews with several Black Bear alumni, including actor/activist Peter Coyote, alongside a wealth of photographs and home movies, this acclaimed documentary offers a candid look into the joys and difficulties of free love, nude farming, survival in the wilderness, multiple-parent childrearing and other fascinating aspects of communal living.
[Editor’s note: The residents of Black Bear Ranch spent a good amount of time without wearing any clothes, which fact is well represented in the historical footage in this documentary. In other words, there is quite a bit of nudity in this film, although none of it is lascivious.]