Robert Joseph Flaherty (United Kingdom)

Robert Joseph Flaherty was born in 1884 in USA. He was sent to Upper Canada College in Toronto for his education. He later began his career as a prospector in the Hudson Bay region of Canada. His first film, Nanook of the North (1922), a dramatic interpretation of the Eskimo way of life, was based on 16 months of living with them and filming their lives. His film was an international success, and its subjective presentation of reality set a model of excellence for nonfiction filmmaking, foreshadowing the documentary movement of the 1930s. John Grierson, the founder of the movement, first used the term documentary in a reference to Flaherty’s film, Moana (1926), set in the South Seas, a record of a people untouched by the corruption of civilization.
In the 1930s and ’40s Flaherty’s most famous films were Tabu (1931), codirected with the German director F.W. Murnau, Industrial Britain (1932), made with John Grierson, Man of Aran (1934), The Land (1942), and Louisiana Story (1948).
Flaherty is considered a pioneer of documentary film. He was one of the first to combine documentary subjects with a fiction-film-like narrative and poetic treatment.


  • Nanook of the North
    79´, USA/France, 1922
  • The Potterymaker
    15´, USA, 1925
  • Moana
    77´, USA, 1926
  • The Twenty-Four-Dollar Island
    10´, USA, 1927
  • Tabu - together with F.W. Murnau
    84´, USA, 1931
  • The Glassmakers of England
    UK, 1933
  • The English Potter
    UK, 1933
  • Industrial Britain
    21´, UK, 1933
  • Art of the English Craftsman
    UK, 1933
  • Man of Aran
    76´, UK, 1934
  • Elephant Boy - together with Zoltan Korda
    80´, UK, 1937
  • The Land
    43´, USA, 1942
  • Louisiana Story
    78´, USA, 1948
  • The Titan: Story of Michelangelo - together with Richard Lyford
    70´, Switzerland/West Germany, 1950

Doc Alliance Members

Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.