One investigative project that I often assign in Introductory Media Literacy courses is to have students present the work of a contemporary filmmaker, including thematic, biographical, and artistic analyses. Here’s a useful article by critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott of the New York Times in which they offer a list of 20 young filmmakers singled out for the value of their recent work and the promise of more movies to come, including Dee Rees, Sarah Polley, Andrew Bujalski, J.C. Chandor, and others. It can be very informative for teachers and students (great for college students, but with caution in regards to high school classes where editorial oversight for content is advised) and can bring fresh perspectives to most average viewers. The point is that there are many great movies out there, even if they are not getting to your local megaplex. And for those of us who are teachers, bringing a little bit of the big, enlightening, provoking, questioning, enriching world into our students’ lives is cause for exploration. Check it out.
(Note to Ms. Dargis and Mr. Scott: many of these directors are 40-ish years old. For us educators, we can tell you that for our students that’s not even close to being young.)