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Mockumentary (also known as a mock documentary) is a genre of film and television in which fictitious events are presented in a non-fiction or documentary format; the term can also refer to an individual work within the genre. Such works are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting.

Mockumentaries are often presented as historical documentaries with b roll and talking heads discussing past events or as cinéma vérité pieces following people as they go through various events. Examples of this type of satire date back at least to the 1950s (a very early example was a short piece on the "Swiss Spaghetti Harvest" that appeared as an April fool's joke on the British television program Panorama in 1957), though the term "mockumentary" is thought to have first appeared in the mid-1980s when This Is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner used it in interviews to describe that film.

Prior to "Spinal Tap", "A Hard Day's Night" (1964), written by Alun Owen, and purporting to describe a couple of days in the lives of The Beatles, was possibly the first feature film that could be characterized as a "mockumentary". In 1969, Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" was presented documentary-style with Allen playing a fictional criminal, Virgil Starkwell, whose crime exploits are "explored" throughout the film. Jackson Beck who used to narrate documentaries in the 1940's provides the voice-over narration. Fictional interviews are interspliced throughout, especially those of Starkwell's parents who wear Groucho Marx noses and moustaches. One year later Federico Fellini released "I clowns" (1970), which was in all ways a mockumentary while Allen's film was a narrative with mockumentary aspects throughout. One of the earliest pioneers of the mockumentary format for television comedy is Victoria Wood, who regularly included them in her 1985 series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV. Since the 80s, the mockumentary format has enjoyed much attention, especially in the directorial work of Spinal Tap star Christopher Guest. Films such as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind penned by Guest and co-star Eugene Levy were both critical successes. Borat as well was a success, though writer and star Sacha Baron Cohen received much criticism for his alleged racism and disparagement of the Kazakh people. The most notable uses of the mockumentary in the 2000s have been the British sitcom The Office and its many international offshoots including American, French, German, French Canadian, Chilean, and Brazilian versions with talks of an Indian version to soon begin production.[1]

In Spain, Paramount Comedy has produced a mockumentary, EL DIVO, created by stand up comedian and writer Carlos Clavijo. In this comedy, we follow the life and career of an old tv star (Agustin Jimenez) and his team (Carlos Areces).

The false documentary form has also been used for some dramatic productions (and precursors to this approach date back to the radio days and Orson Welles' production of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds). Mockumentaries are often partly or wholly improvised, as an unscripted style of acting helps to maintain the pretense of reality. Comedic mockumentaries rarely have laugh tracks, also to sustain the atmosphere, although there are exceptions - for example, Operation Good Guys had a laugh track from its second series onwards.

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