A semidocumentary is a form of book, film, or television program presenting a fictional story that incorporates many factual details or actual events, or which is presented in a manner similar to a documentary.


Stylistically, it has certain similarities to Italian Neorealism, such as the use of location shooting and employing non-actors in secondary roles. However, the viewer is not intended to mistake a semidocumentary for a real documentary; the fictional elements are too prominent.[1]


One of the first films of this kind was Henry Hathaway's The House on 92nd Street (1945).[2]

In the late 1940s, semidocumentary films were often associated with film noir thrillers, sharing a commitment to on-location shooting, gritty realism, and understated performances.


In the 1960s and 1970s, the semidocumentary style declined in feature films. The standard documentary had blurred the difference between itself and fiction so much that there was viewer confusion regarding what they were seeing.[1]

Notable semidocumentary examples

Notable directors associated with semidocumentary

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Romanski, Philippe; Sy-Wonyu, Aïssatou (2002). Trompe (-)l'oeil: Imitation & Falsification. Publications de l'Université de Rouen. Vol. 324. University of Le Havre Press. p. 343. ISBN 2877753344.
  2. ^ 30 Overlooked Noir Films That Are Worth Watching — Taste of Cinema
  3. ^ Vice Squad (1953) - Turner Classic Movies
  4. ^ DVD Talk review of Kiss Me Deadly: The Criterion Collection
  5. ^ Vice Squad (1953) - Turner Classic Movies
  6. ^ Vice Squad (1953) - Turner Classic Movies
  7. ^ 20 best film noirs: From Double Indemnity to Shadow of a Doubt|The Independent
  8. ^ Film Noir: The Semi-Documentaries - by Michael E. Grost
  9. ^ McGee, Scott. "The Phenix City Story". WatchTCM. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2021-02-22. Part semi-documentary, part social problem film, part film noir, Phil Karlson's The Phenix City Story (1955) is a one-of-a-kind window into a sordid and fascinating period in American crime history.
  10. ^ Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles|Library of Congress
  11. ^ Butterflies, beetles, and postwar Japan: semi-documentary in the 1960s: Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema: Vol.9, No 1
  12. ^ A Hard Day's Night movie review (1964)|Roger Ebert
  13. ^ Film History of the 1960s
  14. ^ The St. Valentine's Day Massacre review (1967)|Roger Ebert
  15. ^ NOIR CITY 8: LUST & LARCENY! - ScreenAnarchy
  16. ^ 10 great New York noirs|BFI