ⓘ Pseudo-documentary

11'09"01 September 11

1109"01 September 11 is a 2002 international film composed of 11 contributions from different filmmakers, each from a different country. Each gave their own vision of the events in New York City during the September 11 attacks, in a short film of 11 minutes, 9 seconds, and one frame. The original concept and production of the film were by French producer Alain Brigand. It has been released internationally with several different titles, depending on the language. It is listed in the Internet Movie Database as 1109"01 - September 11, while in French, it is known as 11 minutes 9 secondes 1 im ...

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is a 2004 American documentary film featuring the American thrash metal band Metallica. It shares its name with the song "Some Kind of Monster" from Metallicas 2003 album St. Anger. The film shows many studio rehearsals and fragments of concert footage. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature. The DVD release was handled by Paramount Home Entertainment. Metallica re-released the film, including a bonus documentary, in 2014 to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The Aristocrats (film)

The Aristocrats is a 2005 American documentary comedy film about the famous dirty joke of the same name. It was conceived and produced by comedians Penn Jillette, Paul Provenza, and Peter Adam Golden, edited by Emery Emery, Golden sold The Aristocrats to THINKFilm who distributed and released it theatrically. The film is dedicated to Johnny Carson, as "The Aristocrats" was said to be his favorite joke.

Fall of Berlin – 1945

Fall of Berlin – 1945, The Fall of Berlin, or just Berlin is a Soviet documentary film about the Battle of Berlin, titled in Russian Битва за Берлин 1945 г., literally The Battle for Berlin – 1945. The film was directed by Yuli Raizman and Yelizaveta Svilova. The film begins with an animated map of Eastern Europe with Soviet soldier double exposed on the bottom. The narrator lists the names of the rivers that the Red Army crosses as they march west: Volga, Don, Desna, Dnieper, Bug, Dvina, Neman, Vistula, and finally, Oder. The Soviet arrival at the Oder river is shown, along with the broke ...

The Cove (film)

The Cove is a 2009 documentary film directed by Louie Psihoyos which analyzes and questions dolphin hunting practices in Japan. It was awarded the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film is a call to action to halt mass dolphin kills, change Japanese fishing practices, and to inform and educate the public about the risks, and increasing hazard, of mercury poisoning from dolphin meat. The film is told from an ocean conservationists point of view. The film highlights the fact that the number of dolphins killed in the Taiji dolphin drive hunting is several times greater than ...

Into the Inferno (film)

Into the Inferno is a 2016 documentary film directed by Werner Herzog. In it, Herzog explores active volcanoes from around the world, and the people who live near them, with volcanologist and co-director Clive Oppenheimer. The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 3 September 2016 before its debut on Netflix on 28 October 2016.


ⓘ Pseudo-documentary

A pseudo-documentary is a film or video production that takes the form or style of a documentary film but does not portray real events. Rather, scripted and fictional elements are used to tell the story. The pseudo-documentary, unlike the related mockumentary, is not always intended as satire or humor. It may use documentary camera techniques but with fabricated sets, actors, or situations, and it may use digital effects to alter the filmed scene or even create a wholly synthetic scene.


1. Film

Orson Welles gained notoriety with his radio show and hoax War of the Worlds which fooled listeners into thinking the Earth was being invaded by Martians. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum says this is Welles first pseudo-documentary. Pseudo-documentary elements were subsequently used in his feature films. For instance, Welles created a pseudo-documentary newsreel which appeared within his 1941 film Citizen Kane, and he began his 1955 film, Mr. Arkadin, with a pseudo-documentary prologue.

Peter Watkins has made several films in the pseudo-documentary style. The War Game 1965, which reported on a fake nuclear bombing of England, was seen as so disturbingly realistic that the BBC chose not to broadcast it. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Watkins other such films include Punishment Park 1971 and La Commune 2002.

The film Mad Max 2 first frames the story by showing a staged documentary-style sequence of images designed to inform the viewer that what follows is the aftermath of an apocalyptic global war.

The methods of pseudo-documentary have been sharply criticized in some cases, notably with the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK, which mixes fact with fiction to advance Stones point that John F. Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. The film cuts confusingly between actual footage of alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and staged images of actor Gary Oldman who is playing Oswald. The modern sequences are badly lit and they are artificially made grainy and scratched-looking so that they appear to be 1963-era 16 mm film. Stone uses the pseudo-documentary format to influence the viewer by presenting the conspiracy theory in a scientific and authoritative manner.


1.1. Film Fake-fiction

Related to, and in exact opposition to pseudo-documentary, is the notion of" fake-fiction”. A fake-fiction film takes the form of a staged, fictional movie, while actually portraying real, unscripted events.

The notion of fake-fiction was coined by Pierre Bismuth to describe his 2016 film Where Is Rocky II?, which uses documentary method to tell a real, unscripted story, but is shot and edited to appear like a fiction film. The effect of this fictional aesthetic is precisely to cancel the sense of reality, making the real events appear as if they were staged or constructed.

Unlike mockumentary, fake-fiction does not focus on satire, and in distinction with docufiction, it does not re-stage fictional versions of real past events.

Another filmmaker whose work could be associated with the concept of fake-fiction is Gianfranco Rosi. For example, Below Sea Level uses the language of fiction cinema in its rendering of unscripted, documentary material. Of his own work, Rosi said, "I don’t care if Im making a fiction film or documentary - to me its a film, its a narrative thing."


1.2. Film Found or discovered footage

The term found footage has sometimes been used to describe pseudo-documentaries where the plot involves the discovery of the films footage. Found footage is originally the name of an entirely different genre, but the magazine Variety, for example, used the term "faux found-footage film" to describe the 2012 film Grave Encounters 2. The film scholar David Bordwell has criticized this recent use because of the confusion it creates, and instead prefers the term "discovered footage" for the narrative gimmick.


2. Television

Pseudo-documentary forms have appeared in television advertisements and campaign advertising. The "Revolving Door" ad used in the US presidential campaign of 1988 to attack candidate Michael Dukakis showed scripted scenes intended to look like documentary footage of men entering and exiting a prison through a revolving door. Boston-based band the Del Fuegos appeared in a 1984 commercial for Miller beer, with scripted scenes shot in hand-held camera/pseudo-documentary style. The band was criticized for selling out and for the falseness of the commercial; founding member Warren Zanes said making the ad was a mistake, that their core audience turned away, and the larger audience gained by the exposure did not maintain interest for long.

Peter Greenaway employed pseudo-documentary style in his French television production Death on the Seine in 1988. He used fabricated scenes to reconstruct a historic event that was otherwise impossible to shoot, and portrayed it as reality.

Reality television has been described as a form of pseudo-documentary. An early and influential example is 1992s The Real World by MTV, a scripted "reality" show bordering on soap opera.