Synopsis by Mark Deming
In the late '60s, as youth culture around the world began to dramatically shift in the wake of the hippie movement, many Christians began searching for ways to make the teachings of the Bible relevant to a new breed of young people. Similarly, a small handful of members of the counterculture began embracing the word of Christ and sought to spread his message to their contemporaries. These factors led to the birth of what became known as "the Jesus People Movement," in which evangelical Christians briefly shared a common cause with the hippie scene. One of the pivotal figures in "Jesus Freak" circles was Lonnie Frisbee, a long-haired and bearded believer who said he'd first received the call to preach while tripping on LSD. With the help of Chuck Smith, a conservative minister from Orange County, CA who had a soft spot for the "peace and love" philosophies of the youth movement, Frisbee began preaching at Smith's church during special youth services, and Smith helped Frisbee as he led mass baptisms on the beaches of Costa Mesa. Frisbee became the poster boy of the Jesus People, and was profiled in a number of major mainstream magazine articles on the new wave of counter-cultural Christians. But despite Frisbee's large following and massive influence (two of the churches he helped found have since spawned upward of 1,000 congregations around the world), today he's rarely mentioned by many of the people who worked closely with him, largely because of the cause of his death. Frisbee, who admitted to have experimented with homosexuality before he accepted Christ, died due to AIDS-related illness in 1993, throwing questions about his sexuality into sharp relief. Author and first-time filmmaker David Di Sabatino brings the story of the "original Jesus Freak," his remarkable life, and the tragic circumstances of his death to the screen in Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher, a documentary which features extensive footage and recordings of Frisbee as well as interviews with his friends, family, and colleagues who talk about his public and private lives.
AIDS, evangelism, hippie, minister