Date of Degree
Film and Media Studies
Mockumentary, Documentary, Genre, Film Series
As documentaries developed a more narrative approach to storytelling, filmmakers increasingly turned to scripted or fictional elements (events, characters, etc.) to depict or recreate “reality.” Robert Flaherty, John Grierson and other pioneering documentarians employed numerous fictional devices in their movies. These filmmakers, however, were relentlessly criticized by documentary film purists who steadfastly believed that the blending of fact and fiction was in many ways unethical and an unforgivable betrayal of the genre. Such critics feared that if truth, the key characteristic of the documentary film genre, were manufactured by filmmakers then the documentary genre would lose its uniqueness. More importantly, critics feared that filmmakers could distort or manipulate reality through their use of fictional elements. In essence, a filmmaker could push his or her own agenda, or the values of a particular group or ideology, on impressionable filmgoers.
A new genre of film, challenging concepts of truth and audience perception, arose from this blending of fact and fiction. In the mockumentary film genre, a movie is presented as a documentary even though everything in it is false. Mockumentary filmmakers use parody, satire and often humor to comment on current events and ideas.
The Mock Doc film series I created, presented through chronological film programming, explores the history of the mockumentary film and how it has developed over time. It is important to note that the goal of any mockumentary film is not to enhance credibility but to explicitly question the believability of what the audience is witnessing. My Mock Doc film series will expose the public to a variety of mockumentary films. I will also look at several films, considered “traditional” documentaries by mainstream critics, which in my view are actually mockumentaries.
Napolitano, Victoria, "The Mock Doc Film Series: History of the Mockumentary Film" (2020). CUNY Academic Works.