The week four reading by Paul Ward titled ‘Fiction and non-fiction: the great divide?’ was highly insightful with our documentary fast approaching. The article tells that one of the most interesting aspects about studying the documentary field is the taxonomy of fiction, documentary and nonfiction and the difference as well as similarities between the genres (pg. 31).
Often a controversial topic, the article speaks of the blurred differences between fiction and documentary, or what Bill Nichols depicts as ‘blurred boundaries’. The article aims to deconstruct the modes of both documentary and fiction and the distinguishing factors that categorically place them into their defining genre. In doing so, the article looks over the supposedly separate factors of both film types however investigates overlapping similarities within the genres.
Interestingly the article speaks of a new wave of hybrid genres between documentary, drama and non-fiction that further blurs the distinctions. Giving the subject some consideration, I would consider a documentary film to be perceived by its viewers as truthful. However, various filmmakers have previously pushed these perimeters and have tested an audience’s perception of documentary films. One notably shocking example of this is the mocumentary True Lies, where the main protagonist told a story about being raped, however the film’s credits showed that the film was not based on real events. Despite the film’s shocking affect on it’s viewer when they discovered that the film was not an actuality, True Lies proved to be an exemplifier that documentaries are often perceived to be factual despite the potential for filmmakers to make rhetoric or bias documentary. Notably, the emerging hybrid genres further complicate the defining elements of the mentioned genres along with the audience’s notion of documentaries being based on actualities (34).