American Commune

“How about just up and changing?” asks hippie holy man Stephen Gaskin. American Commune tells the story of the Farm, founded by a group led by Gaskin and his wife Ina May, godmother of the modern midwifery movement. For the first time in 20 years, filmmaker sisters Nadine Mundo and Rena Mundo Croshere return to the Farm, where they were born and raised. Born to a Beverly Hills Jewish mom and a Bronx-raised Puerto Rican dad, the sisters recount the commune’s origins as a caravan of 60 buses leaves San Francisco in 1970 and ultimately lands in the backwoods of Tennessee. Surviving vows of poverty, the rigors of city kids trying to farm, an FBI raid during the Reagan years and Phil Donahue, they are finally done in by the limits of idealism. As the once self-sustaining utopian experiment transitions, the filmmakers’ family crumbles and the sisters flee to Los Angeles, where they consume TV, perfume and meat for the first time. Accented with vintage home footage and news reports—from Rather to Cronkite—this is no simple “wasn’t that a groovy idea while it lasted” story. With empathy for the Farm’s efforts to reboot society, the Mundo sisters have created an engaging and layered portrait of an unusual community and its legacy.
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