Why would anyone want their family’s lives recorded and televised? With the ubiquitous presence of “family” reality shows in 2011, that’s a question barely uttered anymore. But when filmmaker Craig Gilbert entered the home of the Loud family, shooting 300 hours of footage and airing the Louds’ lives on PBS as the documentary An American Family, it had never been done before. (Yes, kids, there was a “Real World” long before MTV.) Writer-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor, The Extra Man) go behind the scenes of the whole circus with a top-flight cast in Cinema Verite, which HBO will premiere Saturday night, April 23.
The series was famous for not only capturing the idea of the American nuclear family in the early 70s, but for chronicling the members’ many problems — and even causing a few. James Gandolfini (one of HBO’s current heroes) stars as Gilbert, a guy who created an entire television genre. The Louds are played by Tim Robbins, Diane Lane, Thomas Dekker, Caitlin Custer, Nick Eversman and Justified‘s little Kaitlyn Dever. And in a casting stroke-of-genius side note, look for James Urbaniak as Dick Cavett.
Cinema Verite Teaser Trailer
An American Family presented the TV nation with divorce, homosexuality… real issues they weren’t seeing on popular sitcoms (um, The Brady Bunch) at that same time. In 2002, TV Guide listed the 12-episode series at #32 on their 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.