A running gag in pop culture for the last few decades has been the image of the defeated hippie—cutting his hair, donning a suit and tie and joining the rat race like every other Joe. This may have happened plenty of times, but documentarian and UofA professor Beverly Seckinger’s Hippie Family Values demonstrates that it didn’t happen every time.
The documentary, which screens at 1 p.m. this Sunday, May 27, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, is a chronicle of The Ranch, a community in remote rural New Mexico, founded by longhaired countercultural youths in the ‘70s and based on the idea of government by consensus, shared labor, harmony with nature, etc. Some four decades later, The Ranch is still gamely plugging away, and many of its original residents still look and talk like hippies, just wryly and ruefully older.
Seckinger, who shot the film over a 10-year period, focuses on a couple of the female residents: original member Sally, who built her own cabin back in the day while she was pregnant, and her grown daughter Dulcie, who returned to The Ranch with her husband and offspring after a sojourn out into the wider world. We also meet Kate, an accomplished potter who brings her own aging mother to live with her at The Ranch, and several of the men, who are struggling with rapidly approaching mortality.
Running just over an hour, Hippie Family Values is a sweet, somewhat melancholy portrait of a community – the long-term future of which is very much in question, but the legacy of which is no small achievement. As far as can be gathered from the film, its subjects are humorous, dignified folks, happily surrounded by kids and grandkids and friends, with full lives of work and love and fun, and faced with all the difficulties that accompany old age no matter who you are or how much organic produce you did or did not consume. While it would be silly to suggest that these people are just like everybody else, it appears that at the end of the day, hippie family values are simply family values.
Presented in partnership with No Festival Required, Hippie Family Values shows at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 27, at the Virginia G. Piper Theatre, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $14. Director Beverly Seckinger is scheduled to be present for a Q&A after the film. Go to scottsdaleperformingarts.org for details.
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