Faking it

Mock-documentary and the subversion of factuality

Authors: Jane Roscoe and Craig Hight

There are any number of fiction and non-fiction texts which challenge, articulate or reinterpret many of the central tensions within the documentary form. Of the non-fiction texts, the most significant have perhaps been reflexive documentaries. This book is primarily intended to introduce ideas about mock-documentary to students and academics working within media and documentary studies. It examines those fictional texts which to varying degrees 'look' (and sound) like documentaries. This group of texts have been labelled using a variety of terms; 'faux documentary', 'pseudo-documentary', 'mocumentary', 'cinéma vérité with a wink', 'cinéma un-vérité', 'black comedy presented as in-your-face documentary', 'spoof documentary' and 'quasi-documentary'. The book includes some discussion of the tensions within the genre, in particular where different codes and conventions appeal to competing, often contradictory, cultural understandings of how 'reality' can be represented. It looks to outline the nature of the more recent expansion of textual concerns and representational strategies employed by documentary filmmakers. Mock-documentary represents only one instance of a continuum of fictional texts which are characterised by a blurring of the line between fact and fiction. The book compares these contrasting screen forms, concentrating especially on the nature of the distinctive relationships which they each construct towards the documentary genre. It introduces a schema of three 'degrees' of mock-documentary, in part reflecting the diversity in the nature and extent of these texts' appropriation of documentary aesthetics. A speculative genealogy for the mock-documentary as a distinctive screen form is outlined.

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