In 1970, 1,500 hippies and their guru Stephen Gaskin founded a commune in rural Tennessee. Members forked over their savings, grew their own food, delivered their babies at home and built a self-sufficient society. Raised in this alternative community by a Jewish mother from Beverly Hills and a Puerto Rican father from the Bronx, filmmakers and sisters Rena and Nadine return for the first time since leaving in 1985. Finally ready to face the past after years of hiding their upbringing, they chart the rise and fall of America’s largest utopian socialist experiment and their own family tree. The nascent idealism of a community destroyed, in part, by its own success is reflected in the personal story of a family unit split apart by differences. AMERICAN COMMUNE finds inspiration in failure, humor in deprivation and, most surprisingly, that communal values are alive and well in the next generation.
AMERICAN COMMUNE was supported by several prestigious arts grants, including Women In Film, The Jerome Foundation, The New York State Council of The Arts, and Women Make Movies. While still in development, it was featured in the No Borders IFP Market and The IFP Rough Cut Labs.
Photos by David Frohman, Gerald Wheeler