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 contaminated with fictional elements, in real time, filmed when the events take place, and in which someone – the character – plays his own role in real life. A film genre in expansion, it is adopted by a number of experimental filmmakers.
The new term 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. Either in cinema or television, docufiction is, anyway, a film genre in full development during the first decade of this century.
Docudrama and mockumentary
In contrast, docudrama is usually a fictional and dramatized recreation 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). Typically however, "docudrama" refers specifically to telefilms or other television media recreations that dramatize certain events often with actors.
A mockumentary (etymology: mock documentary) 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 (see genres: drama versus comedy and tragedy). Portraying events at an ulterior time and basically using fictional narrative such as docudrama, it should not be confused with docufiction as well.
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.
First docufictions by country
- 1926: Moana Robert Flaherty, United States
- 1930: Maria do Mar  by Leitão de Barros, Portugal
- 1932: L'or des mers  by Jean Epstein, France
- 1948: La Terra Trema by Luchino Visconti, Italy
- 1952: Children of Hiroshima by Kaneto Shindo, Japan
- 1963: Pour la suite du monde (Of Whales, the Moon and Men) by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, Canada
- 1981: Transes (fr) by Ahmed El Maânouni, Morocco
- 1988: Mortu Nega (Death denied) by Flora Gomes, Guiné-Bissau
- 1990: Close-up by Abbas Kiarostami, Iran
- 1991: Zombie and the Ghost Train by Mika Kaurismäki, Finland (See review at NYT )
- 2002: City of God by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, Brasil
- 2005: Underexposure by Oday Rasheed, Iraq
Other notable docufictions (until 2000)
- 1931: Tabu by Robert Flaherty and F.W. Murnau
- 1934: Man of Aran by Robert Flaherty
- 1942: Ala-Arriba! (film) by Leitão de Barros
- 1948: Louisiana Story by Robert Flaherty
- 1956: On the Bowery by Lionel Rogosin
- 1958: Moi, un noir (Me, A Black Man) by Jean Rouch
- 1958/59 Indie Matra Bhumi (The Motherland) by Roberto Rossellini, released 2007
- 1959: Come Back, Africa by Lionel Rogosin
- 1961: La pyramide humaine (The Human Pyramid)  by Jean Rouch
- 1962: Rite of Spring  by Manoel de Oliveira
- 1964: Belarmino by Fernando Lopes
- 1967: David Holzman's Diary by Jim McBride
- 1973: Trevico-Torino (viaggio nel Fiat-Nam) by Ettore Scola
- 1974: Orderers, by Michel Brault
- 1974: Montreal Main, by Frank Vitale
- 1976: Changing Tides, by Ricardo Costa
- 1976: People from Praia da Vieira by António Campos
- 1976: Trás-os-Montes by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro
- 1979: Bread and Wine by Ricardo Costa
- 1982: Ana by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro
- 1982: After the Axe, by Sturla Gunnarsson
- 1990: The Company of Strangers by Cynthia Scott
- 1991: Life, and Nothing More by Abbas Kiarostami
See more: at Docufiction films (Categories)
- Reality and documentary – at Six Types Of Documentary, article by Girish Shambu (blog)
- An Introduction to Genre Theory by Daniel Chandler at Aberystwyth University
- 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
- , Docufiction in the Digital Age – Thesis by Tay Huizhen, National University of Singapore
- What is docufiction? – See Section II, pages 37 to 75 (four chapters) of the thesis by Prof. Theo Mäusli
- Indie Matra Bhumi (The Motherland) – Cannes Film Festival
- Ablel Ferrara’s docufiction – Venice Film Festival
- The Savage Eye: White Docu-Fiction & Black Reality at Tribeca Film Festival
- Brian De Palma's On His Iraq Docu-Fiction Comeback at The Huffington Post – Toronto Film Festival and Venice Film Festival
- Darius Mehrjui’s film Diamond 33 – Venice Film Festival
- New Film Events – London Short Film Festival
- Oscilloscope 'Howl' for Off Beat Docu-Fiction Sundance Selection at Ion Cinema
- Docufiction at several film festivals
- See: Hybrids (fiction/nonfiction films) at External links
- Tate Triennial 2009: Altermodern - 'Docufiction'
- See Docudrama: the real (his)tory Confusion of genres – Page 2 on the thesis by Çiçek Coşkun (New York University School of Education)
- From "mock + documentary" - definition at The Free Dictionary
- 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
- Definition of documentary – New Frontiers in American documentary (American Studies at The University of Virginia)
- The Impulse of Documentary-Fiction - Paper at Transart Institute
- (NON)FICTION AND THE VIEWER: RE-INTERPRETING THE DOCUMENTARY FILM – Paper by Tammy Stone, Avila University
- See hybrid genre – page 50, thesis on docufiction by Prof. Theo Mäusli
- Open-ended Realities - article by Luciana Lang at Latineos
- The appeal of hybrid documentary forms in West Africa at Project Muse
- Ethics and Documentary Filmmaking – Article by Marty Lucas at Center for Social Media (American University in Washington, D.C)
- 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
- What to Do About Documentary Distortion? Toward a Code of Ethics – Article by Bill Nichols at Documentary.org
- Documentary Film Prompts-Ethics in Documentary/Fiction vs. Documentary – Paper by Ardavon Naimi at University of Texas at Dallas
- Ethics and Filmmaking in Developing Countries at Unite For Sight
- Jean Rouch 1917-2004, A Valediction - Article by Michael Eaton at Rouge
- Glossary at MAITRES_FOUS.NET
- Jean Rouch and the Genesis of Ethnofiction, thesis by Brian Quist, Long Island University
- "Ethnofiction: drama as a creative research practice in ethnographic film." Journal of Media Practice 9, no. 3(2008), eScholarID:1b5648, article by Johannes Sjöberg
- Why 'Moana,' the First Docufiction in History, Deserves a New Life - article by Laya Maheshwari at Indiewire, July 3, 2014
- 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.
- See Maria do Mar at IMdb
- See L'Or des mers at IMdb
- Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991)Review/Film Festival; How a Zombie Became One With Alcohol and Self-Pity
- "Chicago Cinema Forum". Cine-file.info. 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- India: Matri Bhumi – Article by Doug Cummings at F i l m j o u r n e y (March 18th, 2007)
- Digitally cleaned 'India, Matri Bhumi' screened at Vienna film festival – Article at IBN Live
- Christopher, Rob (2007-08-29). "Q: What Do You Call a Movie That's Getting Its Chicago Premiere 48 Years After Being Made?". Chicagoist. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- The Human Pyramid at IMdb.
- See Acto da Primavera
- See Trevico-Torino (viaggio nel Fiat-Nam at IMdb
- See Gente da Praia da Vieira
- Trás-os-Montes at Harvard Film Archive
- António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro at UCLA
- Rep Pick: Ana – Review by Aaron Cutler at The L Magazine
Sources and bibliography
- (English) Docu-fiction - Convergence and contamination between documentary representation and fictional simulation, thesis by Prof. Theo Mäusli - Science of Communication Faculty, University of Lugano (Italy) - 1999/2000
- (English) The Zulu Mask: The Role of Creative Imagination in Documentary Film – thesis by Clifford Derrick, Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
- (English) Table of contents for Docufictions : essays on the intersection of documentary and fictional filmmaking
- (English) Paget, Derek (1998). No Other Way to Tell It. Dramadoc/docudrama on television. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4533-2.
- (English) Rosenthal, Alan (199). Why Docudrama? : Fact-Fiction on Film and TV. Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2186-5.
- (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.
- (English) Docudrama: the real (his)tory thesis by Çiçek Coşkun (New York University School of Education)
- (Italian) Un genere cinematografico: la docu-fiction. Il caso di 150 ore a Pavia by Laura Marchesi (thesis – abstract)
- (French) Le documentaire historique au péril du « docufiction – thesis by François Garçon (abstract in English and French)
- (French) 3 questions à…Isabelle Veyrat-Masson – interview (Le Journal du CNRS)
- (French) Peter Watkins, un cinéaste maudit article at Critikat
- New Media Documentary – Paper by Gunthar Hartwig
- Issues in contemporary documentary by Jane Chapman at Google Books (pages 1 to 34)
- Shaping the Real: Directorial imagination and the visualisation of evidence in the hybrid documentary – Article by Janet Merewether at Scan journal
- Panel: At The Edge of Truth: Hybrid Documentaries at Vox Talk magazine
- Docufiction: Where Art and Life Merge and Diverge– Article by Julie Drizin at Makers Quest 2.0
- Hybrid Documentary – A Potential Upcoming AV Genre – Article at CinePsyhcos, March 30, 2013
- Recent hybrids (fiction/nonfiction films)
- Mists – Movie reviews, March, 2011
- In Vanda's Room (The Decade in Review) – Article by Cyril Neyrat at Cinema Scope
- It’s Actual Life. No, It’s Drama. No, It’s Both – Article by Dennis Lim at The New York Times, August 20, 2010
- Table of contents for Docufictions : essays on the intersection of documentary and fictional filmmaking