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Sure, some documentaries are made for TV in multiple parts. That seem to be a TV-show and off-topic. But what about for example with:

If the examples are too obscure think Michael Moore. They are made for cinema. Are they on-topic? Where is the line then it isn't longer on-topic? Or should documentaries generally banned?

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The FAQ is sketchy with details right now (as the purpose of the beta is to clearly define the scope), but in my eyes, there is one clear rule:

Any film that had a cinematic release is on-topic. The genre of the film is largely irrelevant, so questions on documentary movies are perfectly valid.

Incidentally, I listed a few "grey areas" in the question on TV shows.

  • And you claimed, that TV and movies should be merged. If that doesn't happen we need a line for documentaries, which are OK and which aren't. – Mnementh Dec 9 '11 at 13:23
  • @Mnementh that part of the answer is assuming that the Movies and TV sites are staying separate, and provides suggestions for where to draw the line. As I answer above, in my opinion any documentary that had a cinema release is on-topic here. Documentaries on TV such as Planet Earth would be restricted to a TV.SE site. – DisgruntledGoat Dec 9 '11 at 13:31
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Documentaries are absolutely on-topic for a movies site. I even think that made-for-tv documentaries are on-topic. The kind that are several episodes that, strung together, form a single cohesive story are just a broken up version of a movie. I would probably make an exception for self-contained episodic documentaries like Planet Earth or Human Planet because there's typically only a tenuous and subtle overarching narrative connecting the episodes; each episode is more or less made to stand alone, but because they are short and serial in nature, I'd put them under a "television" category rather than "movies".

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This is hard to discuss because not only do you have to consider the TV factor, you also have to determine if this is also a place for works of fiction only, or all movies, whether fact or fiction. Also the problem with some documentaries, especially political ones, is that it becomes very skewed and facts get morphed into one-sided fiction. If we're regarding TV as Off-Topic then I would assume any documentary that has had a release in a theatre would be considered On-Topic, but any in a TV aspect only would be Off-Topic.

  • Does OT means on- or off-topic here? I think off-topic, but I'm not sure. The fiction-part is tricky. I remember a movie from Berlinale-festival about immigrants to south-africa. It bordered the line between documentary and fiction, as it was unclear, if the questioned persons are actors or real persons. The director didn't answer that in the Q&A, he said it makes no difference. – Mnementh Dec 9 '11 at 13:27
  • Sorry, fixed it up for clarification. Hate how closely related they are as abbreviations go. – Tablemaker Dec 9 '11 at 13:31
  • I...don't follow your argument. The site is called "movies" - how do documentary movies, "political" or not, come into question about being on topic? And how are documentaries the only movies that are political? Fox Business Network effectively called the new Muppets movie leftist, communist propaganda that "teaches children to hate capitalism"..."political" is in the eyes of the beholder and has nothing to do with whether documentaries are on-topic for this site. – Laura Dec 14 '11 at 18:35
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    Why does 'fiction' or 'non-fiction' matter in this context? Movies are a medium, not a genre. – Katey HW Dec 14 '11 at 18:40
  • I meant in terms of telling a story vs presenting facts, though I do see your point. – Tablemaker Dec 14 '11 at 18:45
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    Documentaries always have a narrative - an assembly of 'facts' in a cinematic medium without narrative would be pointless and probably nonsensical. However, that doesn't matter because movies are a medium, a method by which information whether fiction or non-fiction. The definition of 'movie' does not rest on the truthfulness or (lack there-of) of their content, it rests on how the information is presented. They may be 'propaganda' instead of 'documentary', but they are still movies. They don't suddenly become TV or radio instead. – Katey HW Dec 14 '11 at 19:23

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