Utopian communities rarely last. How have the Hutterites done it over four centuries?
Rooted in the Anabaptist movement, from which groups such as the Amish and the Mennonites also derive, the Hutterites first formed in what is now Austria's Tyrol in the 16th century under the leadership of Jakob Hutter. The sect fled persecution across the continent before ultimately relocating to Canada and the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For his film The Hutterites (1964), the Canadian director Colin Low was given rare access to a Hutterite colony in Alberta, where he detailed the community's history, beliefs and social structure, emphasising the ways in which the Hutterites both intersected with and insulated themselves from the modern world. The resulting documentary is a rich portrait of a resilient sectarian society characterised by its strict devotion to simplicity and community inspired by an idiosyncratic interpretation of New Testament Christian values.
1964 film from the National Film Board of Canada