Earlier today I sat in on the Fact or Fiction panel. Panelists included Sean Farnel from Hot Docs, director Ron Mass (Grass), Karim Ahmad (Programming, ITVS), Evan Shapiro, GM Exec VP for IFC TV, director Mike Akel (Chalk), and Jared Moshe (president of Sidetrack Films). The subject of the panel was "the blurring of lines between fiction and non-fiction filmmaking, and what that means for the artform as a whole." You never know how it's gonna go with these film fest panels -- they can be dry as two-day-old toast, or they can be quite interesting. This one, thankfully, was mostly the latter.
Akel talked about making Chalk, which some people are surprised to learn is NOT a documentary. He discussed the challenges of using both actors and non-actors for the film, and how sometimes the non-actors didn't realize how funny they were. In particular, he wanted to avoid a Borat-esque "Candid Camera" vibe in his filmmaking. He also noted that audience members didn't seem to get that Chalk was not a documentary, and that at the film's first screenings they realized that the audience was getting so involved with the plight of the first year teacher who was the main character, that they were missing the humor of the film.