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Family Name

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

This Sundance Film Festival winner is an absorbing genealogical real-life detective story that follows a personal odyssey to find out the meaning of the family name.

What does a name signify, exactly? Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, white filmmaker Macky Alston never questioned why all of the other Alstons at his elementary school were black. Twenty-five years later, Alston decides to unravel this perplexity in the award-winning documentary FAMILY NAME.

Alston s quest to solve his genealogical mystery takes him from New York to Alabama and then back to North Carolina. He seeks clues at family reunions, graveyards, church services, and, eventually, the original Alston plantations. The people he meets vary markedly in race, age, class and perspective, but they all have two things in common: the family name and a compelling story to tell. The biggest question of this investigation, perhaps, is whether it will provide the Alstons with catharsis or create an even greater sense of division. As the revelations mount, FAMILY NAME unfolds an unforgettable emotional journey that transforms our conceptions of the past.

Product Details

  • Actors: Family Name
  • Directors: Macky Alston
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2008
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00197PP0I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,318 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Family Name" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By David Alston on April 24, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable detective/genealogical story, and an engrossing philosophical meditation on race, and the things (like roots) that can link seemingly diverse people. I first saw this when it ran on PBS in 1998, and was pretty amazed - about halfway through - to see some cousins of my dad's. I was completely blown away. A wonderful wonderful film.
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As a family history rereacher, I really can relate to the DVD, Family Name. I personally have been researching the surnames
of my family wondering if anyyone with the same surname could be related to my family. This product delivers a lot of insight
into what is involved in family history researh including, intervieiws, visiting county courthouses, reviewing documents such
as wills, estate records and census records and travel connected to trying to find answers, I discovered this little jewel
on Amazon and have shared it with my fellow genealogy club members.

JoAnn
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I've always wanted to know more about my family. This documentary was masterfully made and elegant in its realism. If you are an Alston (or Allston/Alstone) you NEED to have this in your collection, be you Black or White. BUY IT!!!!

Also, my video came early, and who can complain about that!?!?! BUY THE DOCUMENTARY!!!!
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I've actually talked to Mackey and I was amazed by his story and I can't wait to watch my grandad on both my mom's and my dad is alston and I know for sure one of them is from chattam county where the rest of my Alston family currently lives
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Macky Alston did an incredible amount of research in order to produce this fascinating story of the Alston families of North Carolina. The movie is insightful and a moving testimony of reconciliation.
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