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

Docufiction (or docu-fiction), often confused with docudrama, is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film.[1] It is a film genre[2] 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.[3]

More precisely, it is a documentary mixed with fictional elements,[4] 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[5] 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.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]


The term involves a way of making films already practiced by such authors as Robert Flaherty, one of the fathers of documentary,[15][16] and Jean Rouch, later in the 20th century.

Being both fiction and documentary,[17] docufiction is a hybrid genre,[18] raising ethical problems[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] 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[26] allows one to consider him as the father of a subgenre called ethnofiction,[27][28] this term means: ethnographic documentary film with natives who play fictional roles. Making them play a role about themselves will help portray reality, which[29] 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 fictional and dramatized recreation[30] of factual events in form of a documentary, at a time subsequent to the "real" events it portrays. A docudrama is often confused with docufiction when drama is considered interchangeable with fiction (both words meaning the same). However, "docudrama" refers specifically to telefilms or other television media 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.[31] 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 more at

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reality and documentary – at Six Types Of Documentary, article by Girish Shambu (blog)
  2. ^ An Introduction to Genre Theory Archived November 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. by Daniel Chandler at Aberystwyth University
  3. ^ A creative treatment of actuality – article by Peter Biesterfeld at Videomaker, 08/07/2015
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Indie Matra Bhumi (The Motherland)Cannes Film Festival
  7. ^ Ablel Ferrara’s docufiction Archived January 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. – Venice Film Festival
  8. ^ The Savage Eye: White Docu-Fiction & Black Reality Archived September 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. at Tribeca Film Festival
  9. ^ Brian De Palma's On His Iraq Docu-Fiction Comeback at The Huffington PostToronto International Film Festival and Venice Film Festival
  10. ^ Darius Mehrjui’s film Diamond 33Venice Film Festival
  11. ^ New Film EventsLondon Short Film Festival
  12. ^ Oscilloscope 'Howl' for Off Beat Docu-Fiction Sundance Selection Archived December 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. at Ion Cinema
  13. ^ Docufiction at several film festivals
  14. ^ See: Hybrids (fiction/nonfiction films) at External links
  15. ^ Definition of documentary – New Frontiers in American documentary (American Studies at The University of Virginia)
  16. ^ 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.
  18. ^ See hybrid genre Archived September 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. – page 50, thesis on docufiction by Prof. Theo Mäusli
  19. ^ Open-ended Realities – article by Luciana Lang at Latineos
  20. ^ The appeal of hybrid documentary forms in West Africa at Project Muse
  21. ^ Ethics and Documentary Filmmaking – Article by Marty Lucas at Center for Social Media (American University in Washington, D.C)
  22. ^ 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
  23. ^ What to Do About Documentary Distortion? Toward a Code of Ethics – Article by Bill Nichols at
  24. ^ Documentary Film Prompts-Ethics in Documentary/Fiction vs. Documentary – Paper by Ardavon Naimi at University of Texas at Dallas
  25. ^ Ethics and Filmmaking in Developing Countries at Unite For Sight
  26. ^ Jean Rouch 1917-2004, A Valediction – Article by Michael Eaton at Rouge
  27. ^ Glossary at MAITRES_FOUS.NET
  28. ^ Jean Rouch and the Genesis of Ethnofiction, thesis by Brian Quist, Long Island University
  29. ^ "Ethnofiction: drama as a creative research practice in ethnographic film." Journal of Media Practice 9, no. 3(2008), eScholarID:1b5648, article by Johannes Sjöberg
  30. ^ See Docudrama: the real (his)tory Confusion of genres – Page 2 on the thesis by Çiçek Coşkun (New York University School of Education)
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ Why 'Moana,' the First Docufiction in History, Deserves a New Life – article by Laya Maheshwari at Indiewire, July 3, 2014
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 4, 1991). "Review/Film Festival; How a Zombie Became One With Alcohol and Self-Pity". The New York Times.
  35. ^ |title=Chicago Cinema Forum | |date=2007-08-29 |accessdate=2012-08-29
  36. ^ India: Matri Bhumi Archived September 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. – Article by Doug Cummings at F i l m j o u r n e y (March 18th, 2007)
  37. ^ Digitally cleaned 'India, Matri Bhumi' screened at Vienna film festival – Article at IBN Live
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ "I clowns: Fellini's Mockumentary". The Artifice
  40. ^ Revue by Jamie Havlin at Louder than War
  41. ^ Frames from scenes at MMM
  42. ^ Trás-os-Montes at Harvard Film Archive
  43. ^ António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro at UCLA
  44. ^ Rep Pick: Ana – Review by Aaron Cutler at The L Magazine

Sources and bibliography[edit]

THESES online



  • (in English) Paget, Derek (1998). No Other Way to Tell It. Dramadoc/docudrama on television. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4533-2. 
  • (in English) Rosenthal, Alan (199). Why Docudrama? : Fact-Fiction on Film and TV. Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2186-5. 
  • (in English) Lipkin, Steven N., ed. (2002). Real Emotional Logic. Film and Television Docudrama As Persuasive Practice. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2409-5. 

External links[edit]

Recent hybrid films since 2000 (comments)