The “utopian” commune of acclaimed Vienna artist Otto Mühl was one of the most controversial artistic and social experiments of the 1970s.Mühl created the commune for like-minded artists and friends and built Friedrichshof, a compound in the Austrian countryside. The community was based on ideas of common sexuality, common property and the abolition of parent-child relationships — all within a veiled artistic and utopian vision.
The most ambitious aim of this Austrian commune was Mühl’s project “Child Production” which aimed to create a completely new human being.When children were born or moved into the commune, they were separated from their mothers. Usually the mothers were sent away to work in nearby cities, earning money for the commune. The children lived in the larger “family” and had no special connections to their parents. Mühl was the “father” of all the children. In this way, he hoped to raise children that were “unspoilt by the nuclear family,” a new human breed. Although started as a free collective, the social experiment soon turned into a totalitarian system with Otto Mühl as its dictator.
Because Mühl was an artist and artistic expression was a big part of the vision, much of the daily activities of the community were filmed. It’s this abundance of archival footage that makes the film so startling and compelling. There are scenes of theatrical performances put on by the children for the whole community after the evening meal. Over a hundred adults and children are gathered, most of them naked, with the patriarch sitting at the centre of the activity. In a few disturbing scenes, children are singled out in front of the group and either congratulated or humiliated by Mühl for their behaviour or performance. It should come as no surprise that twenty years later Mühl was arrested for abuse and sentenced to seven years in prison and the community dissolved. Through the eyes of several of the children, now young adults, Children of the Commune looks back at the Friedrichshof commune and examines what became of them and some of their “family members” after surviving this experiment.
Wybrane festiwale i nagrody /Selected festivals and awards: 2010 – Festiwal Filmów Dokumentalmnych DOXA/DOXA Documentary Film Festival, 2010 – FF Cork/Cork FF
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