From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Ethnofiction is a neologism which mainly refers to docufiction, a blend of documentary and fiction film. It’s used in visual anthropology as ethnography. Its object is not the individual but the ethnicity, excepting when the individual represents it.
Jean Rouch is considered to be the father of ethnofiction. Ethnologist, he soon discovers that, always interfering in the event which it registers (the ritual), the camera becomes participant. The exigency in research of a non-participating camera is a preconcept denied by practice. Going further in his attempts, Jean Rouch introduces the actor as a tool in research. A new genre was born. (Jean Rouch and the Genesis of Ethnofiction – thesis by Brian Quist (Long Island University). Robert Flaherty, «avant la lettre», may be seen as the grandfather of this genre.
Being mainly used to refer to films in the domain of ethnology as a branch of science, the term ethnofiction is as well adequate to refer to documentary films in the field of arts with meaningful tradition, preceding and following Rouch’s oeuvre. It may also be useful to designate any fictional creation with an ethnographical background.