The fiction in non-fiction film

Carlos Ruiz Carmona*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past few decades of film theory, significant scholars and acclaimed filmmakers have established that documentary, just like fiction, must resort to ambiguous and subjective rhetorical figures to represent the world. This claim has led some scholars to conclude that documentary as a term referring to itself as being non-fictional might be disregarding its inevitable fictional elements. This argument may suggest that documentary, just like fiction, when representing the historical world fictionalizes reality. If we accept this claim as true, we need to ask whether terms such as fiction and non-fiction or documentary make sense when discussing the process of representing reality. Does this claim mean that cinema can only fictionalize reality and therefore we should eradicate from this discussion terms such as non-fiction or documentary? The questions that this paper intends to answer are: Can the term fiction exist without referring to the term non-fiction or documentary? What roles do documentary and fiction play in representing the historical world? Are these terms necessary to communicate and understand the process of representing reality? This paper has established that fiction and documentary are necessary terms that emerge in cinema narration as a means to mirror human experience's needs to organize, communicate and understand reality.
Translated title of the contributionA ficção em filmes de não ficção
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-31
Number of pages22
JournalLa Revista Icono 14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Documentary
  • Fiction
  • Narrative
  • Narrative comprehension
  • Representing reality
  • Subjectivity


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