It is a film genre  which attempts to capture reality such as it is (as direct cinema or cinéma vérité) and which simultaneously introduces unreal elements or fictional situations in narrative in order to strengthen the representation of reality using some kind of artistic expression.
More precisely, it is a documentary contaminated with fictional elements, in real time, filmed when the events take place, and in which someone – the character – plays his own role in real life. A film genre in expansion, it is adopted by a number of experimental filmmakers.
The new term docufiction  appeared at the beginning of the 21st century. It is now commonly used in several languages and widely accepted for classification by international film festivals. Either in cinema or television, docufiction is, anyway, a film genre in full development during the first decade of this century.
Docudrama and mockumentary
In contrast, docudrama is usually a fictional and dramatized recreation of factual events in form of a documentary, at a time subsequent to the “real” events it portrays. A docudrama is often confused with docufiction when drama is considered interchangeable with fiction (both words meaning the same). Typically however, “docudrama” refers specifically to telefilms or other television media recreations that dramatize certain events often with actors.
A mockumentary (etymology: mock documentary) is also a film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format, sometimes a recreation of factual events after they took place or a comment on current events, typically satirical, comedic or even dramatic  (see genres: drama versus comedy and tragedy). Portraying events at an ulterior time and basically using fictional narrative such as docudrama, it should not be confused with docufiction as well.
Being both fiction and documentary, docufiction is a hybrid genre, raising ethical problems concerning truth, since reality may be manipulated and confused with fiction (see Ethics at creative non-fiction).
In the domain of visual anthropology, the innovating role of Jean Rouch allows one to consider him as the father of a subgenre called ethnofiction. This term means: ethnographic documentary film with natives who play fictional roles. Making them play a role about themselves will help portray reality, which  will be reinforced with imagery. A non ethnographic documentary with fictional elements uses the same method and, for the same reasons, may be called docufiction.
First docufictions by country
- 1926: Moana by Robert Flaherty, United States
- 1930: Maria do Mar  by Leitão de Barros, Portugal
- 1932: L’or des mers  by Jean Epstein, France
- 1948: La Terra Trema by Luchino Visconti, Italy
- 1963: Pour la suite du monde (Of Whales, the Moon and Men) by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, Canada
- 1981: Transes (fr) by Ahmed El Maânouni, Morocco
- 1988: Mortu Nega (Death denied) by Flora Gomes, Guiné-Bissau
- 1990: Close-up (film) by Abbas Kiarostami, Iran
- 1991: Zombie and the Ghost Train by Mika Kaurismäki, Finland (See review at NYT )
- 2002: City of God by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, Brasil
- 2005: Underexposure by Oday Rasheed, Iraq
Other notable docufictions (until 2000)
- 1931: Tabu by Robert Flaherty and F.W. Murnau
- 1934: Man of Aran by Robert Flaherty
- 1942: Ala-Arriba! (film) by Leitão de Barros
- 1948: Louisiana Story by Robert Flaherty
- 1956: On the Bowery by Lionel Rogosin
- 1958: Moi, un noir (Me, A Black Man) by Jean Rouch
- 1958/59 Indie Matra Bhumi (The Motherland) by Roberto Rossellini, released 2007
- 1959: Come Back, Africa by Lionel Rogosin
- 1961: La pyramide humaine (The Human Pyramid)  by Jean Rouch
- 1962: Rite of Spring  by Manoel de Oliveira
- 1964: Belarmino by Fernando Lopes
- 1967: David Holzman’s Diary by Jim McBride
- 1973: Trevico-Torino (viaggio nel Fiat-Nam) by Ettore Scola
- 1974: Orderers, by Michel Brault
- 1976: Changing Tides, by Ricardo Costa
- 1976: People from Praia da Vieira by António Campos
- 1976: Trás-os-Montes by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro
- 1979: Bread and Wine by Ricardo Costa
- 1982: Ana by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro
- 1982: After the Axe, by Sturla Gunnarsson
- 1990: The Company of Strangers by Cynthia Scott
- 1991: Life, and Nothing More by Abbas Kiarostami
See more: at Docufiction films (Categories)