The first point about the line between fiction and non-fiction was something I had already been contemplating earlier today and brought up with my tutor in regards to the film “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. There is much controversy surrounding whether the film is considered ‘documentary’ or if it even is based on a ‘true story’. It made me wonder where the line is between fiction and non-fiction and what is the difference that allows you to classify a film one way or another. As pointed out in the reading (and by Bill Nichols), there is a “blurred boundary” between the two. The reading also brings up the topic of reconstruction and reenactment in documentary and how this straddles the invisible line between fiction and non-fiction. The reading doesn’t particularly provide any answers regarding classifying films as fiction or non-fiction but rather explores the schools of thought that suggest such classifications in documentary. This is perhaps the biggest issue I have with documentary – if artists are able to take liberties, then what can be considered the whole, entire truth?
The reading also raises a valid point about representations of the same story or event and how choices can be deliberately made to portray something in a particular way. It uses an example of several different representations of an event and the way it is portrayed in certain films (i.e. Monster with Christina Ricci) to be self-conscious of the liberties taken and the ‘fictional’ enhancements or exaggerations or other films which claim to be pure documentary or ‘truth’. I honestly believe that the mere act of documentary making in itself is a mediation from an event or reality and that no documentary presents an objective truth because the act of film-making itself is a kind of fiction. You are constantly making choices throughout the entire process. What you choose to film. What subjects you do/don’t include. Stock footage that you deem relevant. A choice of soundtrack. The way the images and testimonies are arranged (why did you choose that order, what are you trying to say). I’m not sure if any documentary is really ‘truth’ or if one representation is more ‘real’ than the other, purely because it doesn’t openly admit that it is only ‘based’ on true events, rather than attempting to directly document them.