Director Jon Erwin discusses his inspiration for the film and how history might be repeating itself today.

Most people today wouldn’t associate Christians with hippies, but the two have more in common historically than you might think. The new film Jesus Revolution explores how these cultures overlap, how thousands of hippies came to know the Lord—becoming “Jesus People”—and how many of them went on to write popular Christian music.

Without sugarcoating the facts, director Jon Erwin maintains that the gospel can bloom in the unlikeliest of places. In the 1960s and ’70s, when the hippie movement was in full force, hundreds of thousands of people went to Southern California to become “Jesus People.” Time magazine called it a “Jesus Revolution”—a miracle hiding in plain sight.

Erwin has made a career out of the road to Christ. His films portray God working in mysterious ways and in tumultuous places such as an abortion clinic (October Baby) or an equality march (Woodland). He thrives off the tension between fraught situations and characters searching for faith. He usually works with his brother, Andrew, but this time he partnered with Brent McCorkle as his codirector.

Over the course of seven years, the pair kept this film in the back of their minds as they worked on other projects but finally decided to explore the reasons why this movement spoke to them so clearly. The result is one of the most compelling movies I’ve seen this year, and one of the most unlikely stories I’ve seen, maybe ever. Jesus Revolution seems about as believable as a Pixar flick—but as Erwin reminds us, “This actually happened!”

How did you first come across this story?

I first came across the Time magazine [issue], which came out [five years] after the “Is [God] …

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