The Children of the Commune (Die Kinder vom Friedrichshof)

Germany 2009, Documentary, 81' | Director, Screenplay Juliane Großheim | DoP Sandra Merseburger | Editor Barbara Gies | Sound Florian Matzku | Music Attila Mühl, Andy Simanowitz | Production Lunafilm

"Otto Mühl was the father of us all, so we didn't need fathers."

It is the early 1970s and the commune centred around Otto Mühl, the Viennese artist, is aiming to create new and freer human beings on the basis of action analysis. Said analysis harks back to the ideas of Wilhelm Reich with his primal scream and Gestalt therapy. First on the list are the children of the commune, who in 1974 move to the Friedrichshof, a farm in Burgenland, Austria, and who are supposed to meet and exemplify the new ideals. They too must regularly present themselves to the group during the course of 'self-portrayal.' There is no outside world.

The commune runs its own school on the premises. For his part, Mühl views the nuclear family as the root of all evil: The alternative: communal sex, communal property, the merger of happening and body art and a strict ban on pair bonding. However, this social experiment soon degenerates into a totalitarian psycho-sect. In 1991, Otto Mühl was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for sexual relations with minors and for other offences.

In The Children of the Commune, the children involved look back on their time in the commune and speak of life today. Their experiences are illustrated by curious archive footage from inside the commune.


JULIANE GROSSHEIM was born 1982 in Berlin. She first studied literature, art history and musicology at the Free University of Berlin followed by photography at the fas.akademie in Berlin. She began her film studies at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts in 2003. The Children of the Commune was her graduate piece. In 2008, the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival showed her short film: Modesty Is Fine.

Juliane Großheim