Nadine and Rena are sisters who grew up on The Farm. More specifically
they grew up in America’s largest social experiment. It began in 1970
when 300 Christian hippies, travelling in a caravan from California,
stopped in the backwoods of Tennessee and started a commune. The Farm
members grew their own food, delivered their own babies, and taught
their own children. They believed in organic farming, vegetarianism,
natural birth, and solar power. Using archival footage, Nadine and Rena
tell the story of the rise and fall of The Farm, weaving their own
family’s narrative throughout. The details of The Farm’s story are
incredible; their ideological tenets were radical (still are!) and The
Farm lifestyle challenged much of the Western way of life. American
Commune offers insight into both the public’s perception of The Farm
and the members’ own experiences. The story inspires nostalgia for
what seems like a simpler time, but is also jarringly honest about the
reality of The Farm.

And though this movie is about the history of The Farm as well as Nadine and
Rena’s past, it is also about family. It’s about parents and children
and the events and ideas that join or divide them. It’s about
returning home and recovering the past in hopes of defining and
explaining the present. American Commune is about seeking
self-identity within the group dynamic. It’s about exploring the
obscurity of childhood in search of answers. When we ask our parents,
“What was I like as a kid?” we are also asking, “Why am I this way?”
We want answers, we want resolutions, and we want happy endings. As
Nadine puts it, “No matter what kind of family you come from, no
matter how dysfunctional it is, you still idealize that first
family. It seems perfect, even though it wasn’t. They seem happy.”

American Commune breaks down our idealized notions of the past, of
family, and of home. It will make you laugh and probably cry. It is a
history lesson and a personal journey, indefinite in ending, as is
appropriate to both.

American Commune is screening as a part of Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Fest on:

Monday, April 29 at 7pm at The Royal Cinema
Wednesday, May 1 at 3:30pm at The ROM Theatre
Friday, May 3 at 5:30pm at Hart House Theatre

Click here for detailed showtimes and tickets.