Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




As the two primary modes of filmic representation, fiction and documentary have long been separated by their distinct associations with subjectivity and objectivity respectively. Documentary film, with its ties to lived reality, has been especially hampered by a too direct connection with objectivity. Regarding the documentary film's representation of actuality, there is a tendency for the authority behind the construction of the documentary image to go unexplored and unquestioned when the documentary subject is thought to be objectively represented. Neither fiction nor documentary image are likely to be destabilized when each mode neglects to recognize its connection to an alternative manner of representation—non-fiction for fiction film and vice versa. While the acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between fiction and non-fiction has received much attention over the past fifteen years (particularly in the growing area of documentary film studies), further critical analysis is still needed.

In order to more fully understand the relationship between fiction and non-fiction modes of representation in film, this study is divided into a creative project (in the form of a documentary film made by the author) and a written scholarly project which analyzes a range of fiction and documentary films. Included in the dissertation is a chapter on 25 Fictions, the author's forty-minute video that depicts some of the fictions which make up historic 25th Street in Ogden, Utah. Those portions of Chapter V that deal with 25 Fictions are in italics. The other films discussed include, for instance, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, Nicholas Barker's Unmade Beds, and Stephen Earnhart's Mule Skinner Blues. Each film's analysis traces the presence and function of that mode which runs counter to the film's dominant mode of representation (i.e. the home-movie style of Breaking the Waves). What fiction and documentary films that foreground, in a self-reflexive way, the process of their construction illustrate is the fact that all filmic representations are a negotiation between fiction and non-fiction. And it is in that space between fiction and documentary that alternative representations to mainstream, commercial cinema are created.