Celebration at Big Sur
1971.
88 minutes.
20th Century Fox
Produced by Carl Gottlieb
Directed by Baird Bryant and Johanna Dematrakas
Filmed by Baird Bryant, Joan Churchill, Bill Kaplan, Peter Smokler, and Gary Weis.
Music by Kit Kallonzes.
Starring:
Joan Baez, Carol Ann Cisneros, the Comb Sisters, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Chris Ethridge, Mimi Fariņa, Flying Burrito Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Dorothy Morrison, Julie Payne, Greg Reeves, John Sebastian, Struggle Mountain Resistance Band, and Dallas Taylor.
DVD released in 2010 as Big Sur Celebration.

Reviewed in:
New York Times, April 10, 1971.
Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1971.

A musical documentary of the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, produced by Carl Gottlieb, with whom Mimi worked in the San Francisco improv comedy troupe The Committee (he also co-wrote David Crosby's two biographies). Gottlieb explained the film's aesthetic by saying Woodstock is like Ben Hur while Celebration at Big Sur is like Shoot the Piano Player. The former are spectacles, the latter are warmer and more intimate.

The only performance by Mimi is in a duet with fellow Committee comedienne Julie Payne as they sing a song identified on the DVD as "Changes, Circles Spinning," though other sources call it "Tears of Fire." It's a beautiful song, but only about a minute of the performance is shown. (No songwriting credit is given.)

The film also includes home movie footage of Mimi frolicking in the grass in her wedding dress with her new husband, Milan Melvin. This footage is from the 1968 Big Sur Fest, when they were married, but over it we hear Joan singing "Sweet Sir Galahad" at the 1969 Big Sur Fest, and the effect of the song and footage together is like an early music video.

Aside from these two glimpses of Mimi, there are occasional flashes of her throughout the film, as shown below. It's unfortunate that the filmmakers accorded her such a minor role in this documentary. The DVD, released in 2010, has no bonus features, and is somewhat blurry, so these are the best screen shots I could get.


Eating lunch with Stephen Stills


Into the hot tub


In the hot tub with with Milan Melvin. David Crosby and John Sebastian were also in the scene.


With Julie Payne


With Julie Paye and Stephen Stills


Mimi and Joan dancing to CSNY playing "Down by the River"


Home movie footage of Mimi and Milan


The last song: Mimi, Carol Ann Cisneros (in violet), and Julie Payne clapping along with "Oh Happy Day" led by Dorothy Morrison & the Combs Sisters.


With Joan, Carol Ann, Julie, and John Sebastian.


Back to Mimi Filmography
Richard & Mimi Fariņa Home Page