The Flaherty Celebrates its 60th Year

For new readers: “The Flaherty is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the proposition that independent media can illuminate the human spirit. Its mission is to foster exploration, dialogue, and introspection about the art and craft of all forms of the moving image. It was established to present the annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, named after the maker of such seminal documentaries as Nanook of the North, Man of Aran, and Louisiana Story. The Seminar remains the central and defining activity of The Flaherty…”

But there are many other events going on around the year. I have to confess that my knowledge of The Flaherty was pretty limited until former colleague from EDN, Anita Reher, crossed the Atlantic and took over as Executive Director – and got me on the list for receiving the informative newsletter of the organisation.

Yes, 60 years, and the Ex. Director has asked for memories. In the February newsletter Dorothy O. Olson , who programmed the second seminar together with the widow of Robert, Frances, looks back. She remembers three films, that she writes passionately about: Satyajit Ray’s Pater Panchali, (photo) shown in 1961 in Puerto Rico on 35mm:

“Now try to imagine our improvised screening facilities: during daylight hours the dining room, with one long wall of glass, was darkened by black curtains that blocked light. These were removed at night so the windows could be opened.”

The two other films she brings up are Marcel Ophuls “The Sorrow and the Pity” (shown in 1971) and Jennifer Fox “Beirut: The Last Home Movie” (1988). But it is not only wonderful film history …

tonight The Flaherty has a surprise party in Boston, USA. Read about it:

“Experience what it means to sit in a theater without any preconceived notions of what you’re about to see and discover cinema as it’s meant to be seen. Join Flaherty Executive Director, Anita Reher along with Flaherty Board of Trustees members Elizabeth Delude-Dix, Lorna Lowe and former trustee John Gianvito for an evening of screening and discussion at The DocYard. In the spirit of the Flaherty tradition, the program of the evening will be not be revealed until it is projected on the screen. It’s an opportunity to participate in this unique experience that is the Flaherty, where you are urged to arrive with an open mind and without any preconceptions.

Join us for an evening of screening and discussion. Selections from past Robert Flaherty Film Seminars and Flaherty NYC Series will be screened followed by a conversation on non-fiction film. Explore the creative process of contemporary filmmakers and artists who are expanding the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. Their films will make you laugh, think, and cry.

As always, the conversation will continue over refreshments.”

No announcement of the film programme, what an interesting and courageous format, never met that in 40 years documentary screenings in Europe! Never dared to do the same!

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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