You do realise that it is legitimate to classify it as non-fiction, right? Fiction is based on what the creator of the work has purported to be not real (like Harry Potter is fiction since JK Rowling isn't really saying there is a wizard with a scar on his forehead in the real world) but nonfiction applies to works even when they are factually dubious like documentaries about aliens, religious texts, etc as the mere fact that they are asserted to be true by the creator means they are nonfiction.
Husband made me download an episode of Ancient Aliens last week because I'd never seen it and didn't know who he was. It was about how the people we suspect are ancient aliens (you know, the ones who built the pyramids and easter island statues) may in fact be time travelling humans from the future.
They were deadly serious about it too. Provided "evidence" and everything. It was truly scary the way they thought.
What was even worse: finding it in the sparsely populated documentary section of Barnes and Noble, re-shelving it properly in the fiction section, telling the clerk what I'd done because I'd found the DVDs mis-shelved, and having her say: "But that's where it's supposed to be."
Me: "No, documentaries are based on some kind of scientific or historical research. This is entertainment TV, kind of like that show about the zombie apocalypse."
Clerk: "But it's from National Geographic."
Me: "National Geographic was bought by Fox, and hasn't done a cultural anthropology documentary in years. They show all kinds of things that aren't documentaries. This for example is a satire."
Clerk: "But it's corporate policy to put it in with the documentaries."
Me: "I notice you have very few of them compared to a couple years ago. Maybe you should make the section smaller or maybe see what's being produced internationally."
Clerk: "It's corporate policy."
Me: "It's fashionable to be pig-ignorant these days, and I get that your corporate policies reflect that, but we're all adults here and it's OK if we think for ourselves."
Clerk: "It's corporate policy."
She just kind of kept repeating that. It's like the aliens ate her brain or something.
Books are treated differently from DVDs by stores that sell them. Having a separate section for religious and inspirational material tiptoes past the fiction/nonfiction debate.
It's possible format plays a role in whether something is considered nonfiction, but it's not consistent. They seem to be pretty picky as to what makes it in, and what doesn't.
I found "Ray", "Coach Carter", and "Noah" in the drama section, "42" and "Gettysburg" in the history section, and "La Vie En Rose" and "The Josephine Baker Story" with the music and entertainment movies. They're all dramatizations, but only "42" and "Gettysburg" make it into the nonfiction section. Meanwhile, "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Farce of the Penguins" are found with the comedies (correctly, I think) while "Some Kind of Monster" is in with the live music. "Up The Yangtze" is in the history section. The latter four films are all in a contemporary live documentary format, where the filmmakers follow people or animals around with a camera, and sometimes interview them or do voice-over explanations of scenes that they edit together. "Up The Yangtze" is taken seriously but "Some Kind of Monster" isn't.
It seems to me that if the aliens make the cut, then "Ray" and "The Josephine Baker Story" ought to be accorded the same respect. Maybe even religious films like "Noah" should be brought in. But they aren't. "Noah" and "The Ten Commandments" are in the drama section.
It's probably a moot point anyway. Streaming sales are gradually phasing out DVD sales, and five years from now DVDs will most likely go the same way as VHS. It's possible to classify a film several ways online, so genre identity is going to be more fluid in the future.