#M(ichigan)M(ovie)H(istory) On this Day, February 16, 1884 documentarian Robert J. Flaherty born

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Did you know that the first commercially successful feature-length documentary film was directed and produced by a Michigan born documentarian?

It was on this day, February 16, 1884,  in Iron Mountain, Michigan,  Robert Joseph Flaherty was born.  An American filmmaker Flaherty directed and produced the first commercially successful feature-length documentary film, Nanook of the North (1922).

Considered the “Father” of both documentary and ethnographic film, Flahtery continued the development of this new genre of docufiction, e.g. with Moana (1926), set in the South Seas, and Man of Aran (1934), filmed in Ireland’s Aran Islands.  Nothing in his later life fully equaled the success of Nanook of the North.

Flaherty Island, one of the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay, is named in his honor. The Flaherty Seminar, an annual international forum for independent filmmakers and film-lovers, is held in rural upstate New York. The festival was founded in Flaherty’s honor by his widow in 1955


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