Much like the Amish, the Mennonites live a life of isolation from the outside world. They resist the temptations of the modern society by casting themselves away from it. As a result, outsiders have rarely enjoyed an insider's perspective on their daily existence. Meet the Mennonites pulls back the curtain and offers a rare glimpse into their simple and fascinating way of life.
The film observes life in a Mennonite commune in Belize. Many of the commune's inhabitants are reluctant to be shown on camera, but the filmmakers manage to gain the trust of a few subjects. Through their insights, we learn what draws them to a life of extreme discipline, religious devotion and self-containment.
Their unique perspectives are embedded into them from a young age. Children attend school from the age of 6 to 13. During that time, they forgo the usual textbooks devoted to math and science. Their studies revolve exclusively around the Bible.
The typical Mennonite families consist of up to a dozen children. Their days are spent working on farmland or constructing useful furnishings to sell to the outside world.
Artifacts from the outside - such as cell phones - are viewed as tools from Satan. Even so, a few members of the commune have opened themselves to more inclusion from their surrounding communities. This is a sore point with the more devout members of the Mennonite tribe, and they work to ensure that these "offenders" are appropriately ostracized for their transgressions.
Sensing a wavering from the old order, a feeling of discontent begins to rumble among the more traditional members of the community. Together, they join forces to form a new commune in Peru. This ambitious move stirs both optimism and fear within them. It will mark their first time on a plane, and a degree of interaction with the masses that they have been successful in avoiding up until now.
Sharply observant and free of judgement, Meet the Mennonites is a fascinating look at a committed people who are driven by a shared thirst for a simpler way of life.
Directed by: Mélanie Van Der Ende