Movie Files Home
Movie File Components

An Overview of Cinergía Movie File Components:

By Sophia A. McClennen

Each movie file for Cinergía is composed of three central areas: 1) Pre-Screening, 2) Comprehension and Criticism, and 3) Media Literacy.  Our current movie files have been contributed by undergraduate student teams, graduate student teams, and faculty.  We welcome contributions from students or scholars of films that relate to the Spanish-Speaking world.  If you are interested in contributing a file please contact Sophia A. McClennen at

The following information is provided to give future contributors and current users a sense of the basic format of our movie files.  These are general guidelines and, while each file will be slightly different, all will have some version of the three main areas detailed below. These files are designed as a teaching and research resource for students, faculty and cinephiles all over the world.  Please contact us with feedback on the format.  We welcome your suggestions.


Section 1: Pre-screening

To successfully use film in teaching/learning about a foreign culture, the viewer needs some background on the region, the historical period, and the historical events associated with the film in order to fully interact critically with the movie.  For instance, if you watch a historical film with no background at all, you will be totally unprepared to analyze the accuracy of the film. 

Consequently this area of the movie file includes two ESSENTIAL components.

1)     Background Links: A series of approximately 10 links to web sites in either English or Spanish that can provide background information.  These links must be accompanied by a brief explanation of the site, its author or source, its perspective (point of view) and its useful characteristics.  The sites chosen should represent the best resources for the film. It is important that these sites represent a good range of background information and that, when possible, they provide a range of viewpoints.  Each entry should have: a) page title, b) web address, c) general description-- including page author if available and language and d) relevance to the movie.

2)     Pre-screening questions: A series of 10-20 questions that a film viewer should consider BEFORE watching the movie and which they should be able to answer by studying the materials found on the web sites provided.

The rationale for this section is to provide the viewer with a critical background to the film.  We believe that viewers are more likely to engage critically with a film if they are aware of the references and context of the material.  Solid pre-screening is crucial to critical engagement after screening the film.


Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism

This section is designed for the viewer who has the background and has also seen the movie.  The purpose of this section is to check the viewer’s knowledge of what they saw in the film and to encourage critical questions about the film.

This section includes two ESSENTIAL components:

1)     Comprehension questions:  Before we can analyze a film, we have to make sure that we all understand it.  This section contains approximately 15 questions that test that knowledge.  These questions may seem similar to literary comprehension questions—such as who are the main characters, what is the theme, what is the setting, etc?  These questions should also cover the central concerns of the movie.

2)     Criticism: This section pushes conversation of the film to consider critical approaches to the film.  These critical approaches might be feminist, Marxist, postcolonial, postmodern, structural, etc… Critical areas of focus might be on issues of historical accuracy for historical films or they might be on the representation of women from a feminist perspective, etc… While most films are open to criticism from various viewpoints, this section is designed to apply a particular critical approach to a film.  Ideally this section will include 4 or 5 brief quotes from critical sources that address a central critical perspective.  These quotes might be used to remind viewers of different critical attitudes that provide insight into the film.  They are not meant to be exhaustive, but they should be provocative.  These quotations will be followed by approximately 10 questions that ask the viewer to analyze the film using this particular critical approach. 


Section 3: Media analysis

This section is designed to ensure that film scholarship pays attention to issues of form.  Much teaching and research using film focuses too heavily on content and disregard s form as a meaningful aspect of the film.  We believe that films must be studied for their technique and their specific context of production.  This section emphasizes an analysis of film production and technique and includes a section on still analysis.  

Consequently this area has two essential sections.

1)     Still analysis.  The still is the shortest piece of film that can be analyzed and it is an excellent starting point for critical engagement with film form. The still analysis should consider the following components.  Not all of the components are always noteworthy.  Include only those aspects that help produce meaning in the frame.  

2)     Media Literacy questions. This section includes approximately 15 questions that relate to media literacy.  The following site has a series of generic questions that can be adapted for these purposes: McClennen's Keys to Media Analysis.  This section must pay attention to the specificity of film form and media communication.  Questions might cover the intended audience, the use of symbols, the use of sound to create emotions, camera techniques that reinforce the story, if the form of the film encourages viewer engagement or passive absorption, etc… They might also include information on the director (or any other member of the crew) or on the production of the film and reception of the film.

These are the three central areas to a movie file.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Sophia A. McClennen with any questions or comments.


Copyright 2000-2005

This site created and maintained by 

Sophia A. McClennen



Created on 6/20/00 

Last updated on 07/20/2007