"Unlike most documentaries of its day, An American Family had no host, no interviews, and almost no voice-over narration. Producer Craig Gilbert presented the family's daily life - as captured by filmmakers Alan Raymond behind the camera, and Susan Raymond covering sound - in the style of cinéma vérité. It was the most controversial and talked-about television program of its era.
PBS was then a fledgling 'fourth network' joining CBS, NBC and ABC, and despite its non-commercial profile was looking for blockbuster hits, according to Bill Kobin, Vice President for programming at NET at the time. In the course of its 12 week run, An American Family riveted the country and drew in a record 10 million viewers a week. In the years since it was first broadcast, the series has become the subject of lengthy articles and reviews, including panel discussions with anthropologist Margaret Mead, who speculated that An American Family could be the beginning of a new way to explore the complexities of contemporary reality, 'maybe as important for our time as were the invention of drama and the novel for earlier generations.'
Now, 40 years since filming, the original filmmakers have edited a new 2-hour feature-length special capturing the most memorable and compelling moments of the landmark series. See for yourself why An American Family is one of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (TV Guide, 2002)."
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Fig.1 An American Family: Anniversary Edition was produced by Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond, edited by Alan Raymond and Charlotte Mangin served as the supervising producer. The original series was conceived and produced by Craig Gilbert. At WNET, Stephen Segaller was the executive in charge of production and Jane Buckwalter was the director of programming operations. At WLIW, John Servidio was the general manager. An American Family: Anniversary Edition premiered July 2011.
"New forms of travel film were coming out and the Johnson South Sea Island film particularly seemed to me to be an earnest of what might be done in the North. I began to believe that a good film depicting the Eskimo and his fight for existence in the dramatically barren North might be well worth while. To make a long story short, I decided to go north again- this time wholly for the purpose of making films."
(Robert J. Flaherty, 1922)