Docufiction (or docu-fiction) is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film. It is a film genre 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.
More precisely, it is a documentary mixed with fictional elements, 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.
The neologism docufiction 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.
The term involves a way of making films already practiced by such authors as Robert Flaherty, one of the fathers of documentary, and Jean Rouch, later in the 20th century.
Being both fiction and documentary, docufiction is a hybrid genre, raising ethical problems 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 allows one to consider him as the father of a subgenre called ethnofiction. This term means: ethnographic documentary film with natives who play fictional roles. Making them play a role about themselves will help portray reality, which 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.
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. While docudrama can be confused with docufiction, "docudrama" refers specifically to film or other television recreations that dramatize certain events, often with actors.
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. 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.
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