Seeking out the

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Orange Sunshine

Directed by William A. Kirkley
Produced by William A. Kirkley, Andrew Fuller, and Debra Maniscalco
Written by William A. Kirkley
With: Austin Arnold, Tyler Mauro, and Francesca Galassi
Cinematography: William A. Kirkley, Rudiger Barth, and Rich Schaefer
Editing: Chris Catanach
Music: Matt Costa
Runtime: 105 min
Release Date: 14 March 2016
Color: Color
Orange Sunshine tells the little known but important and fascinating true story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love—a spiritual group of surfers and hippies in California who became the largest international suppliers of LSD during the '60s and '70s. Writer/director William Kirkley conducts candid and insightful interviews with most of the surviving members of the group, centering on Michael Randle and Carol Griggs, the husband and wife who were the Brotherhood's ostensible leaders. With little archival footage to mine, Kirkley resorts to my least favorite documentary technique; reenactments (or recreations as they're referred to here). Fortunately, Kirkley has a gift for blending the real and the staged in most cases, avoiding those feelings of dismissal and rejection I usually experience when a non-fiction film shows me actors playing out what its talking heads explain "really happened." Indeed there are a few cringeworthy reenactments that occur at a key emotional moment in this story, which will pull viewers like me out of the picture rather than pull us in as intended. I wish Kirkley just let his subjects talk in these moments but such is the conundrum of the reenactment approach—once you start relying on this technique it's difficult to stop. Fortunately, the majority of this picture and the story it tells are far too compelling to get too fixated on the style, editing, music, and other elements the filmmakers use to open our eyes to history we all think we know but that has never really been properly told without cheap, fashionable, or sensationalistic overtones.