In the late 1960's, a handful of hippies living in Washington State who were looking for spiritual enlightenment came in contact with Paul Erdman, a gentle but charismatic man who resembled Jesus Christ. Erdman took the name Love Israel, and he gave a number of his followers new names based on virtuous qualities -- Faith Israel, Patience Israel, Brotherhood Israel and so on. By the end of the 60s, Love Israel and his followers had formed a commune and developed a spiritual philosophy that forbade that which they regarded as unnecessary (including marriage and celebrating birthdays), while music and investigation of the psyche through drugs were encouraged and free love was common among members. Known as "The Israel Family" and "The Love Family," the group included 300 members at its peak and owned land and houses where the Family lived and worked together. Dozens of children were born to members of "The Israel Family" during their heyday and raised within the commune; one of them was filmmaker Eric Johannsen, who offers a look at what life was like seen through the eyes of "The Israel Family" in his documentary It Takes A Cult. Combining vintage footage of the Family with recent interviews with members -- some still committed to the Family's teachings, others of whom have moved on -- It Takes A Cult doesn't aim to paint the group as good or evil, but present an even-handed portrait of what it was like to be raised within a large group of remarkable characters. It Takes A Cult was an official selection at the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival.
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