Robert Flaherty

Birth of Documentary.

Robert Flaherty was born February 16th 1884 and died July 23rd 1951. He was an American filmmaker who directed and produced the first succesful feature length documentary film. This film is of course Nanook of the North made in 1922. The film made him famous and none of his later works ever lived up to Nanook of the North.

Flaherty was married to writer Frances H. Flaherty from 1914 until his death in 1951. Frances also worked on several of her husband's films and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story for Louisiana Story in 1948.

Flaherty's Nanook of the North is possibly on of the best known of the silent era documentaries. He visited the area on behalf of mining companies during which he began a study on the local communities which then led to the film. This was not just a documentary but sometimes referred to as a docufiction as Flaherty often interferred in the every day life of the subjects, getting them to re-enact certain parts of their day. One classic example of this would be when the Eskimo's were asked to hunt a walrus and not to attack it until Flaherty said so.

Other famous films by Robert Flaherty include: Man of Aran (1934) which is a documentary about the Irish community on the Aran Isles, Louisana Story ( 1948) and Moana (1926).

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