FILM BACKGROUND REPORT DIRECTIONS
Choose an American fictional feature film. You may choose any such film not screened in class. This
film may be any feature film not screened in class, as long as it is not The Ice Storm (1997), Back to the
Future (1985), or a Walt Disney film (for copyright infringement reasons) and it is available for
reviewing. Check IMDb.com (http://www.imdb.com/) to make sure that you have chosen a
fictional feature film and not a documentary, a TV movie, or a straight-to-video title. Ideally, you
will continue to work on this film for your oral presentation and your formal essay.
Once you have chosen your film, determine how this film addresses a social issue whose
relevance immediately preceded the film’s release. A good source for finding your film’s release date
is IMDb.com. Once you know your film’s release date, you should re-watch it. Your knowledge of
the time period and the film may help you select a particular social issue that your film explores. If not,
you may want to look at a yearbook or a timeline to get ideas. The MGA Library website has a Film
Subject Guide (http://guides.mga.edu/film), which lists several reference materials to help you learn
about the time period during which your chosen film was made.
The film need not deal with an issue head on for it to be worth investigating. For instance, The Son
of the Sheik does not explicitly call for women’s liberation. Still, the film does champion female
self-determination. The story frequently takes Yasmin’s point-of-view and celebrates her goals and
desires over those of her father and the all-male gang that attempts to control her. Do not limit
yourself to the surface of your film’s plot. Seek out ideas that may not be explicit.
Once you have chosen an issue or idea to read into your film, do some library research. Find two
credible library articles about this issue or idea that were published sometime between the film’s release
date and three years prior to it.
At least one article must be from a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. You may also use articles
from reputable periodicals, such as Time, Newsweek, Psychology Today, National Geographic, The New
York Times, etc… (But not People, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Gawker, etc….). The MGA Library’s
Film Subject Guide lists databases for finding peer-reviewed journal articles and credible news articles.
Your Film Background Report’s introductory paragraph should present the title of your film, the film’s
director, the year of your film’s release, the social issue you see reflected in your chosen film, and an
explicit thesis statement that announces your film’s point of view on this social issue. Next, your
report should summarize each of your two articles’ main ideas about your film’s social issue. Use
MLA style documentation when you cite your articles and include an MLA works cited page. The
MGA Film Subject Guide links to an MLA guide. You can also find one at the Perdue Online Writing
Lab (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/) or in any post-2009 writing handbook.
The second page or so of your Film Background Report should explain how your film’s narrative and
imagery represent the social issue and its related ideas as reported in your articles. Refer to your film
as specifically as possible here. Ideally, you will fully explain how just two or three important
scenes from your film reveal its attitude towards its social issue.
Your report should be at least 500-words, typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, using 12-
point font. It is due in the appropriate assignment folder on D2L/Brightspace on the day listed on the
Deadlines section of our course syllabus. To post your Film Background Report, go to our class page in
D2L/Brightspace, click on Assignments, click on Film Background Report, and upload your
assignment in MSWord, PDF, or rtf format.