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Moana, by Robert Flaherty, the first docufiction in film history (1926)

Docufiction (or docu-fiction) is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film. It is a film genre[1] which attempts to capture reality such as it is (as direct cinema or cinéma vérité) and which simultaneously introduces unreal elements or fictional situations in narrative in order to strengthen the representation of reality using some kind of artistic expression.[2]

More precisely, it is a documentary mixed with fictional elements,[3] in real time, filmed when the events take place, and in which the main character or characters—often portrayed by non-professional or amateur actors—are essentially playing themselves, or slightly fictionalized versions of themselves, in a fictionalized scenario. In this sense, docufiction may overlap to an extent with some aspects of the mockumentary format, but the terms are not synonymous.

A film genre in expansion, it is adopted by a number of experimental filmmakers.[citation needed]

The neologism docufiction[4] appeared at the beginning of the 21st century. It is now commonly used in several languages and widely accepted for classification by international film festivals.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Robert Flaherty


The term involves a way of making films already practiced by such authors as Robert Flaherty, one of the fathers of documentary,[14][15] and Jean Rouch, later in the 20th century.

Being both fiction and documentary,[16] docufiction is a hybrid genre,[17] raising ethical problems[18][19][20][21][22][23][24] concerning truth, since reality may be manipulated and confused with fiction (see Ethics at creative non-fiction).

In the domain of visual anthropology, the innovating role of Jean Rouch[25] allows one to consider him as the father of a subgenre called ethnofiction.[26][27] This term means: ethnographic documentary film with natives who play fictional roles. Making them play a role about themselves will help portray reality, which[28] will be reinforced with imagery. A non-ethnographic documentary with fictional elements uses the same method and, for the same reasons, may be called docufiction.

Docudrama and mockumentary[edit]

In contrast, docudrama is usually a dramatized recreation of factual events in form of a documentary, at a time subsequent to the "real" events it portrays.[29] While docudrama can be confused with docufiction, "docudrama" refers specifically to film or other television recreations that dramatize certain events, often with actors. [citation needed]

A mockumentary is also a film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format, sometimes a recreation of factual events after they took place or a comment on current events, typically satirical, comedic or even dramatic.[30] Whereas mockumentaries are usually fully scripted comedies or dramas that merely adopt some aspects of documentary format as a framing device, docufictions are usually not scripted, instead placing the participants in a fictionalized scenario while portraying their own genuine reactions and their own improvisational dialogue and character development.

First docufictions by country[edit]

Other notable examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An Introduction to Genre Theory Archived November 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine by Daniel Chandler at Aberystwyth University
  2. ^ A creative treatment of actuality – article by Peter Biesterfeld at Videomaker, 08/07/2015
  3. ^ Il difficile rapporto tra fiction e non fiction che si concretizza nella docu-fiction (The difficult relationship between fiction and non-fiction patent in docufiction) – thesis in Italian by Laura Marchesi, Faculty of Communication Sciences (Università degli Studi di Pavia) at Tesionline, 2005/06
  4. ^ What is docufiction? – See Section II, pages 37 to 75 (four chapters) Archived September 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine of the thesis by Prof. Theo Mäusli
  5. ^ Indie Matra Bhumi (The Motherland)Cannes Film Festival
  6. ^ Ablel Ferrara’s docufiction Archived January 19, 2012, at the Wayback MachineVenice Film Festival
  7. ^ The Savage Eye: White Docu-Fiction & Black Reality Archived September 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at Tribeca Film Festival
  8. ^ Brian De Palma's On His Iraq Docu-Fiction Comeback at The Huffington PostToronto International Film Festival and Venice Film Festival
  9. ^ Darius Mehrjui’s film Diamond 33Venice Film Festival
  10. ^ New Film EventsLondon Short Film Festival
  11. ^ Oscilloscope 'Howl' for Off Beat Docu-Fiction Sundance Selection Archived December 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at Ion Cinema
  12. ^ Docufiction Archived 2011-09-01 at the Wayback Machine at several film festivals
  13. ^ See: Hybrids (fiction/nonfiction films) at External links
  14. ^ Definition of documentary – New Frontiers in American documentary (American Studies at The University of Virginia)
  15. ^ The Impulse of Documentary-Fiction Archived March 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine – Paper at Transart Institute Archived 2011-08-31 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ (NON)FICTION AND THE VIEWER: RE-INTERPRETING THE DOCUMENTARY FILM Archived 2012-03-25 at the Wayback Machine – Paper by Tammy Stone, Avila University
  17. ^ See hybrid genre Archived September 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine – page 50, thesis on docufiction by Prof. Theo Mäusli
  18. ^ Open-ended Realities – article by Luciana Lang at Latineos
  19. ^ The appeal of hybrid documentary forms in West Africa at Project Muse
  20. ^ Ethics and Documentary Filmmaking – Article by Marty Lucas at Center for Social Media (American University in Washington, D.C)
  21. ^ On Ethics and Documentary: A Real and Actual Truth – Article by Garnet C. Butchart at Cultural Studies Program, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, published University of South Florida
  22. ^ What to Do About Documentary Distortion? Toward a Code of Ethics Archived 2012-03-23 at the Wayback Machine – Article by Bill Nichols at Documentary.org
  23. ^ Documentary Film Prompts-Ethics in Documentary/Fiction vs. Documentary – Paper by Ardavon Naimi at University of Texas at Dallas
  24. ^ Ethics and Filmmaking in Developing Countries Archived 2021-05-13 at the Wayback Machine at Unite For Sight
  25. ^ Jean Rouch 1917-2004, A Valediction – Article by Michael Eaton at Rouge
  26. ^ Glossary at MAITRES_FOUS.NET
  27. ^ Jean Rouch and the Genesis of Ethnofiction, thesis by Brian Quist, Long Island University
  28. ^ "Ethnofiction: drama as a creative research practice in ethnographic film." Journal of Media Practice 9, no. 3(2008), eScholarID:1b5648, article by Johannes Sjöberg
  29. ^ See Docudrama: the real (his)tory Confusion of genres – Page 2 on the thesis by Çiçek Coşkun (New York University School of Education)
  30. ^ A television programme or film which takes the form of a serious documentary in order to satirize its subject. – definition at The Free Dictionary and Dictionary.com
  31. ^ Why 'Moana,' the First Docufiction in History, Deserves a New Life – article by Laya Maheshwari at Indiewire, July 3, 2014
  32. ^ Note, however, that Flaherty's earlier film, Nanook of the North from 1922, incorporates many docufiction elements, including the "casting" of locals into fictitious "roles" and family relationships, as well as anachronistic hunting scenes
  33. ^ Maria do Mar at IMdb
  34. ^ L'Or des mers at IMdb
  35. ^ Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991)Review/Film Festival; How a Zombie Became One With Alcohol and Self-Pity
  36. ^ Boys Soldiering in an Army of Crime – article by Stephen Holden, NY Times, January 17, 2003
  37. ^ How the Arab Spring Changed the Arab Screen and Why You Need to Start Paying Attention – review by Ronan Doyle, November 5, 2013
  38. ^ Trying to find beauty in the darkness of Iraq review by Salar Jaff and Ned Parker at Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2011
  39. ^ French, Philip (20 July 2013). "Tabu". The Guardian.
  40. ^ "Robert J. Flaherty, Who Blurred the Line Between Nonfiction and Fiction in Film". NY Times. 3 August 2016.
  41. ^ Ala-Arriba! at IMDb
  42. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1948-09-29). "' Luisiana Story,' a Flaherty Film About a Boy in the Bayou Country, at the Sutton". NY Times.
  43. ^ Out of the Bowery’s Shadows (Then Back In) – article by Dave Kehr, February 24, 2012
  44. ^ One drink over the line – article by J.R. Jones Archived 2018-04-27 at the Wayback Machine at the Chicago Reader, February 16, 2012
  45. ^ "Cruel Camera, FAKERY in Wildlife Documentaries". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC news, the fifth estate. 2008-11-26. event of 1958. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31.
  46. ^ The Film Is the Search: J. Hoberman on Jean Rouch's Moi, Un Noir Archived 2018-04-28 at the Wayback Machine – article by J. Hoberman, Artforum International, November 2015
  47. ^ "Chicago Cinema Forum". Cine-file.info. 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  48. ^ India: Matri Bhumi Archived September 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine – Article by Doug Cummings at Filmjourney Archived 2015-10-29 at the Wayback Machine (March 18th, 2007)
  49. ^ Digitally cleaned 'India, Matri Bhumi' screened at Vienna film festival – Article at IBN Live
  50. ^ Christopher, Rob (2007-08-29). "Q: What Do You Call a Movie That's Getting Its Chicago Premiere 48 Years After Being Made?". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  51. ^ McClune, Caitlin (2014). "Come Back, Africa: The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Volume II (Review)". The Moving Image. 14 (2): 118–120.
  52. ^ The Human Pyramid at IMdb.
  53. ^ See Acto da Primavera
  54. ^ Belarmino – reference note at Letterbox
  55. ^ David Holzman's Diary – review by Jaime N. Christley at Slant Magazine, June 13, 2011
  56. ^ I clowns: Fellini's Mockumentary – article at The Artifice
  57. ^ Revue by Jamie Havlin at Louder than War
  58. ^ Frames from scenes at MMM
  59. ^ Trevico-Torino (viaggio nel Fiat-Nam at IMdb
  60. ^ Despite success of Les Ordres, filmmaker Michel Brault preferred fact to fiction – article by Robert Everett-Green at The Globe and Mail, April 14, 2017
  61. ^ Lives more interesting than movies – article by Don Shewey, Soho News, June 18, 1980
  62. ^ Trás-os-Montes Archived 2012-10-02 at the Wayback Machine at Harvard Film Archive Archived 2012-12-31 at the Wayback Machine by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro
  63. ^ [http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/events/2012-07-06/films-and-legacy-antonio-reis-and-margarida-cordeiro António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro at UCLA
  64. ^ Rep Pick: Ana Archived 2014-07-12 at the Wayback Machine – Review by Aaron Cutler at The L Magazine
  65. ^ After the Axe at IMDb
  66. ^ After the Axe – reference note with film online by Sturla Gunnarsson, National Film Board of Canada
  67. ^ The Masculine Mystique - reference note with film online by John N. Smith and Giles Walker, National Film Board of Canada
  68. ^ Screen: '90 Days,' Canadian comedy – review by Janet Maslin, NY Times, 1986
  69. ^ Sitting in Limbo – reference note with film at Reel Canada
  70. ^ Gwynne Dyer: A shortage of sperm – commentary by Gwynne Dyer, December 2012
  71. ^ Train of Dreams – reference note at ONF
  72. ^ Train of Dreams at the [IMDb]
  73. ^ Welcome to Canada – reference note by John N. Smith at ONF with film online
  74. ^ The Company of Strangers Archived 2018-04-28 at the Wayback Machine – reference note at ONF with film for download
  75. ^ Life, and Nothing More – review by Tina Hassannia Archived 2018-06-26 at the Wayback Machine at Inreviewonline, September 5, 2011
  76. ^ On the Knife’s Edge: Pedro Costa’s In Vanda’s Room – review by Travis Hoover at Slant Magazine, July 5, 2007
  77. ^ In Vanda's Room – review by Richard Brody at The New Yorker
  78. ^ Ten – review by Roger Ebert, April 11, 2003
  79. ^ Ten – review by Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 27 Sep 2002
  80. ^ Ten – review by Rolando Caputo at Senses of Cinema, December 2003
  81. ^ Life, Assembled One Room at a Time review by Manohla Dargis, NY Times, August 3, 2007
  82. ^ Colossal Youth is a colossal confusion – review by Samuel Wigley, April 29, 2008
  83. ^ Criminals Gone Wild review by Logan Hill, NY Magazine, January 7, 2008
  84. ^ Crime Porn (With Simulated Action) – review by [1], January 7, 2008
  85. ^ Our Beloved Month of August – review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian, January 28, 2018
  86. ^ film/review/our-beloved-month-of-august Our Beloved Month of August – review by Glenn Heath Jr. at Slant Magazine, September 7, 2010
  87. ^ "A meditation on what it means to be marginal". Montreal Gazette, May 29, 2009.
  88. ^ A Study of Time, Love and Decay in Genoa – review by Stephen Holden, August 3, 2011
  89. ^ The Wolf's Mouth – review by Neil Young at The Hollywood Reporter, October 14, 2010
  90. ^ Closed Curtain review – Iranian auteur confronts depression and creativity – review by Mark Kermode, The Guardian, September 6, 2015
  91. ^ ‘Closed Curtain’ Directed8 by Jafar Panahi And Kambuzia Partovi – review by Christopher Bell at IndieWire, July 10, 2014
  92. ^ Romney, Jonathan (November 1, 2015). "Taxi Tehran review – Jafar Panahi's joy ride". The Observer.
  93. ^ Jafar Panahi’s Remarkable “Taxi” – review by Richard Brody, New Yorker, October 13, 2015
  94. ^ "Tuktuq – Film de Robin Aubert". Films du Québec, March 2, 2017
  95. ^ "«Mad Dog Labine»: irrésistiblement «rough»". Le Devoir, April 6, 2019

Sources and bibliography[edit]

THESES online



External links[edit]