American Commune at Toronto's Hot Docs Film Festival
Mon, Apr 29 7:00 PM @ The Royal Cinema
Wed, May 1 3:30 PM @ The ROM Theatre
Fri, May 3 5:30 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Nadine Mundo and Rena Mundo Croshere are sisters who were born into the infamous hippie commune The Farm. They returned to see it twenty years after leaving and documented the journey, augmenting it with a rich archive of footage shot on the rural Tennessee enclave, which still exists as a commune, interviews with members past and present and the children who grew up there.
The sisters are clearly torn about their history, and hid their communal origins. They left and lived lives far removed, literally embracing the MTV generation. Nadine became producer at the music channel. Deciding to go back and film the experience was an emotional decision they didn’t take lightly, especially as the reunion would finally bring their father and mother face to face again.
As young adults in the 60’s, their parents were like many at the time looking for an alternative lifestyle away from the commercialism and artifice of society. They were “off the grid” in every way at The Farm, able to create their own power and run their own state certified school and live the life they wanted. But reality set in as they didn’t have money and were often hungry. Families lived in tepees, on buses and jerry built shacks, and endured them in the snowy winters.
A woman living nearby admits she was scared to death when hundreds of hippies arrived in hill country to build a community. She says she hid in the closet for fear they would scalp her. Little did she know The Farm was a Christian group of married couples – sometimes married simultaneously to two partners – raising children and plying cottage crafts and eventually small scale agriculture. They couldn’t quite step away from commerce or other “evils” of the modern world. They seem naïve and eccentric, like big children creating a fort.American Commune is bracing and feels somewhat dangerous. It’s ample proof that you never knows when your past is going to stand up and slap you. And when you walk right back into it, it can be a revelatory experience. A late chapter in the film reminds of life’s breathtaking changes. This is a must-see.