Jessica Sanford ’17

Project TitleA New Genre of Film: Fictional Documentary
Other Student Participants – Kaillie Winston ’17
Mentor – Ana Oancea

Our project grows from the observation that in L’argent de Poche, the director, Francois Truffaut, chose a documentary style of filmmaking, in which the real names of places and people were kept, even though he was making a fictional film. In particular, the location, the town of Thiers, where the film takes place, is nothing special, and this is not glamorized. Based on this, we developed the category of ‘fictional documentary’ and the qualifier of ‘documentary effect.’ In our research, we pursue this through discussion of several other films that play with the documentary / fiction distinction. One such film, Ozon’s Dans la maison makes this distinction its subject: a smart student writes fictional compositions detailing his time with the family of another student, but as he receives feedback from the teacher, reality seems to react to his re-writes. Moreover, we argue that the scenes of the film that focus on the classroom express the documentary effect by mimicking similar scenes in other films that focus on French education. After discussing three such example, in closing our paper we evaluate the usefulness of the categories we invented for films focusing on other subjects.