Robert Joseph Flaherty (16 February 1884, Iron Mountain, Michigan – 23 July 1951, Dummerston, Vermont) was an American filmmaker who directed and produced the first commercially successful feature length documentary film, Nanook of the North (1922), made his reputation, and nothing in his later life equalled its success, although he continued the development of this new genre of docufiction, eg. with Moana (1926), set in the South Seas.
He is a progenitor of ethnographic film. Jean Rouch and John Collier Jr. would practice and theorize the genre as visual anthropology, a subfield of anthropology, in the 1960s.
Flaherty was married to writer Frances H. Flaherty from 1914 until his death in 1951. Frances worked on several of her husband’s films, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story for Louisiana Story (1948).
Flaherty was one of seven children born to prospector Robert Henry Flaherty (an Irish Protestant) and Susan Klockner (a German Roman… read more