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Family Name (1997) More at IMDbPro »


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Macky Alston (narration written by)
Kay Gayner (narration written by)
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Release Date:
29 August 1997 (USA) See more »
A gay man seeks to discover what kinship, if any, exists between his white family and the nearby blacks who share the name of Alston. | Add synopsis »
3 wins & 2 nominations See more »
(4 articles)
User Reviews:
A Stunning Documentary Meditation On Family History, Secrets, Truth and more... See more (2 total) »


  (in credits order)
Macky Alston ... Himself / Narrator
William Badgett ... Rev. Primus Alston (as Will Badgett)

Directed by
Macky Alston 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Macky Alston  narration written by
Kay Gayner  narration written by

Produced by
Macky Alston .... co-producer
Jennifer Chaiken .... associate producer
Mimi Fountain .... co-executive producer
Nicholas Gottlieb .... co-producer
Nicholas Gottlieb .... executive producer
Selina Lewis .... producer
Maria Maggenti .... consulting producer
Original Music by
Camara Kambon 
Cinematography by
Eliot Rockett (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Sandra Christie  (as Sandra Marie Christie)
Christopher White 
Makeup Department
Kate Morgan .... makeup artist
Art Department
Thomas B. Davidson .... graphic designer
Sound Department
Glenn Davis .... additional sound
Rick Dior .... sound re-recording mixer
Judd Ehrlich .... assistant sound editor
Elizabeth Heeden .... apprentice sound editor
Frank Keraudren .... additional sound (as Francois Keraudren)
Craig Marsden .... sound mixer
Regina Mullen .... sound editor
Betsy Nagler .... sound mixer
Wendel Stevens .... additional sound
Visual Effects by
Michael Hinton .... super-8 blow-up: Monaco Interformat
Camera and Electrical Department
Macky Alston .... hi-8 camera
Gary Becker .... animation camera: F-Stop
Arlene Donnelly .... additional camera
Nick Doumani .... hi-8 camera
Brendan B. Flynt .... animation camera
Jimmy Fountain .... assistant camera
Luke Geissbuhler .... assistant camera
John Kenan .... additional still photographer
Frank Keraudren .... assistant camera (as Francois Keraudren)
Selina Lewis .... hi-8 camera
Stuart Math .... animation camera
Curtis Mattikow .... assistant camera
Alexander Russ .... additional still photographer
Jonathan Schell .... additional camera operator
Jonathan Schell .... hi-8 camera
Brooke Williams .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Macky Alston .... additional editor
Michael Balabuch .... additional editor (as Michael J. Balabuch)
Ariella Ben-Dov .... apprentice editor
Denise Dorn .... apprentice editor
Jim Dougherty .... apprentice editor
Judd Ehrlich .... apprentice editor
Jimmy Fountan .... supervising assistant film editor
Jennifer Gillaspy .... apprentice editor
Jocelyn Glatzer .... demo reel editor (as Jocelyn S. Glatzer)
Valerie Greene .... apprentice editor
Elizabeth Heeden .... apprentice editor
Juan Lantigua .... apprentice editor
Deano LeCarré .... apprentice editor
Kristin Ligocki .... apprentice editor
Laura J. Lutton .... apprentice editor
Rachel Melman .... apprentice editor
Guillermo Ohno .... apprentice editor
Janine Paolucci .... apprentice editor
Noëlle Penraat .... negative cutter
Aaron Saidman .... apprentice editor
Christian Schaal .... apprentice editor
Dan Schwachter .... apprentice editor
David Skinner .... apprentice editor
Jason Robert Spencer .... apprentice editor
Cynthia Toliver .... apprentice editor
Paul Zoglin .... apprentice editor
Music Department
Jim Anderson .... music engineer
Rick Aoyama .... music editor
Claudio Bruzzese .... music preparation
Jennifer Chaiken .... music supervisor
Daniel Dav .... musician: bass
Angelo Earl .... musician: guitar
Anana Kambon .... assistant: Camara Kambon
Camara Kambon .... music producer
Camara Kambon .... musician: piano/synthesizers
Rafa Sardina .... music engineer
Michael Turk .... musician: harmonica
Jon Wheatley .... musician: guitar
Liz Withers .... musician: vocalist
Other crew
Frances Alexander .... research assistant
Vicki Arnold .... research assistant
Allison Berg .... production associate
Allison Berg .... senior researcher
Suzanne Cohen .... research assistant
Thomas B. Davidson .... title designer
Artie Donnelly .... production assistant
Shana Gallagher .... production assistant
Joan Gibson .... production assistant
Jocelyn Glatzer .... director of outreach and education (as Jocelyn S/ Glatzer)
Nate Heffner .... production assistant
Eric Holloway .... research assistant
Elizabeth Horn .... research assistant
Beverly Lester .... production assistant
Zachary Levy .... production assistant
Kristin Ligocki .... production assistant
Rachel Melman .... production assistant
Carol Melton .... senior researcher
Leigh Petrie .... research assistant
Judi Rothberg .... research assistant
Jake Royal .... production assistant
Matthew Ryan .... production assistant
Suzanne Schneider .... distribution coordinator
Cynthia Toliver .... production assistant
Elana Wakeman .... production assistant
Elana Wakeman .... research assistant
Reena Walker .... research assistant
Jaime Wolf .... legal counsel: Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein and Selz (as Jaime M. Wolf)
Leonard Cox .... distribution advisor (uncredited)

DistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

89 min


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
A Stunning Documentary Meditation On Family History, Secrets, Truth and more..., 13 January 2004
Author: David ( from Chapel Hill, NC, USA

I would highly recommend FAMILY NAME if you can catch it - it still is unavailable on DVD or VHS (which is terribly unfortunate) - I would confess to having a bias (my last name being Alston), but it still stands out as a remarkable piece of documentary film-making.

Overall FAMILY NAME is a family-tree project on a grand, vast scale - an attempt at tracing the 'black' and 'white' sides of a family linked by an uncommon surname (Alston), resulting in a film both meticulous in its' detail, and hypnotic in it's unhurried artistry. Along the way, 'Family Name' also serves as a meditation on family secrets both racial and sexual, as Macky Alston is an out gay filmmaker, and also the product of a Southern Baptist family active in the struggle for racial equality in the American South. A bit like William Faulkner reimagined by Tsai Ming-liang, this documentary reveals its' secrets slowly, as Alston works elliptically around central North Carolina collecting interviews and personal histories, interspersing historical investigation and reportage as he locates the American point of origin of the name in Chatham County, just south of Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Along the way Alstons both black and white, drawn from across the American economic spectrum flesh out bits of the story, showcasing (or adding context around) family notables like Romare Bearden (an Alston cousin who became a celebrated painter during the Harlem renaissance) in the process.

Alston - who is present, though usually off-camera - has a quiet, mildly cerebral dignity that underscores the meditative quality of the film, and his quiet suggestion that the reluctance in some family members to ponder the racial divide running through a family with a complex history is similar to the reluctance to reveal certain essential elements (like ones' sexual orientation), out of fear of rejection or offense. The suggestion is that the mindful revelation of (or at least refection upon) either represents a true route towards an enlightened view of one's own history and heritage. In this frame of mind, FAMILY NAME must also be singled out as one of the finest 'Southern' films I've ever seen - presenting individuals who embody a region facing a warts-and-all history, with a single minded determination to grow and move on, shattering a list of regional stereotypes even while drenched in the 'atmosphere' the region is famed and romanticized for.

My review might be a touch biased, but so be it. This is a great film, much deserving of a wider audience. Let's hope a home video release happens soon.

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