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The Beloved

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Commune or cult? This epic documentary illuminates the Rajneesh sannyasin movement in 1980s Fremantle, as told by those who lived through it.

If you lived in the Fremantle of the early 1980s, it was not uncommon to see the so-called ‘Orange People’: members of the Rajneesh sannyasin commune. Surrendering themselves to the spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, adherents were promised enlightenment and revolution, but required to live by significantly modified social structures and identities. Like so many living experiments dedicated to a higher consciousness, the movement seemed to have all the trappings of a cult – and its notoriety has lingered in the city in the four decades since.

In this epic three-part documentary, Fremantle filmmaker Joseph London – who had childhood friends whose parents were disciples – interweaves images of the present-day city with evocative archival footage and the never-before-heard voices of the sannyasins and ex-sannyasins who emerged from the experience. Provocative and eerie, The Beloved is an expansive, expository collage that goes beyond the bad press to contend with the real aftermath of a controversial calling.

“An epic, and at times poignant, narrative – an exploration of meaning, set against a beautifully-filmed backdrop of the Port City.” – Fremantle Shipping News

Available now until 22 August.