Commune of Bliss

Far away from the big cities and major roads – in the vast expanse of the Northern Prairies – a withdrawn people are practising their headstrong way of life and beliefs. Few outsiders have ever had a chance to get to know more about their communal life-style. The German rooted Hutterites are direct descendants of radical Anabaptists from the days of the Reformation in Europe. After hundreds of years of fierce persecution, having moved about from country to country, they now chose to live apart from the modern world. By rejecting modern media such as TV and Radio they preserve their spiritual heritage and oppositional way of life, speaking an odd Alpine dialect and wearing their traditional medieval garments – peasant folklore: the men in trousers with suspenders and the women in old fashioned kerchiefs from the age of childhood on.
After 6 difficult years of preparation to gain trust with the Hutterite people and their elders, the film-makers were finally permitted to „take the picture“ – as the Hutterite Brethren see film and photography to be part of worldly sins: fostering vanity and „the lust of eyes“.
The film „Commune of Bliss“ presents a unique first-hand look at the inner workings of a Hutterite community in Alberta, which in its ways is reminiscent of the communal life on a Kibbutz. It is probably the only long feature film ever to have been accomplished in such close relation to a Hutterite community. It lends a rare, close up look at an intriguing form of living, far away from our industrialised world: the film gives a novel sense of the riches of the simple life while also showing the limits of human hopes and wishes.

Documentary + 2004 + 96 minutes+ DigitalBeta 16:9
Director: Klaus Stanjek + Camera: Volker Gerling + Edit: Bettina Blickwede +
Production company:
Cinetarium and Ö-Film GmbH + in cooperation with ZDF/arte
World Premiere: IDFA Amsterdam 11/04
1st. Price "Best Documentary" at 19. Bolcano Cinema
German Premiere: May 7, May 8 - Internat. Competition of the 20th Documentary Filmfestival Munich
festival presentations: complete list

TV-premiere: february 13th, 06 / 10.25pm at "arte" Germany and "arte" France

available versions: english versions (96min / 58min), german versions (96min / 58min) 16:9 PAL
Sales: Oe-Film GmbH / Berlin

statement of director (pdf)


first reactions:

'The film gives me a sense of the rhythm of their lives and gently suggests undercurrents that ripple to the surface every once and a while. We encounter Hutterites fairly frequently here in Calgary - and yet we know nothing about them... A very good film!'
David Christensen, documentary director, Calgary

'So natürlich! Und so wahrhaftig!'
Members of the Hutterite Colony after the screening in october 2004

'Very well done, profound and interesting...'
Jan Rofekamp, Montreal

Statement of the director
Press kit [arte] (german)


© Klaus Stanjek 2018