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Here is a superb resource for media literacy courses: the “Film Club” Learning Network offered by The New York Times. From this site, you can find short documentary films, most under 10 minutes, and related discussion questions.

And here is a Reader Idea resource created by English teacher Michael Kellen that features lessons with the shorts Girl Boxer and Arctic Boyhood

This year, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation has added a new initiative to its The Story of Movies educational program: Portraits of America: Democracy on Film.  This eight-section curriculum was developed by the Film Foundation in partnership with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and with support from the Library of Congress.  Its modules include such themes as The Immigrant Experience, The American Laborer, The American Woman, and Politicians and Demagogues. Here are articles on the initiative from Indie Wire and Market Watch.

As we wind down the school year, teachers in a variety of disciplines — particularly social studies and media literacy — might be trying to wrestle with the conflicting images of the President of the United States engaging in talks with the Supreme Leader of North Korea. Of particular interest to educators who deal with moviemaking and media messages was the rather unique video created to deliver a message of the American administration’s intentions to Kim Jong-un and his government.  Here are some useful resources and commentary on the sort of trailer/PSA created by the current American administration: a journalistic media-based commentary about “Trump’s Video Pitch to Kim,” the actual video as posted by the Wall Street Journal, and coverage of the event by a reporter for the Washington Post. 

And the question — or challenge — to ask of one’s students is certainly, “do you think you could do better?”

For those interested in other topics related to media literacy and social studies, there are a number of posts on mediateacher.net, including: Language and Literacy: Case 1 – “Fake” News and Language and Literacy: Case 2 – The Troll

In the What Exactly is that Movie? post on mediateacher.net, you can read about tricky-to-categorize media messages that have evolved over the past 120 years or so.  Recently, an extensive and very unique archive of very diverse movies was opened to the public: the Prelinger Archives. This incredible media archive is “a collection of over 60,000 ‘ephemeral’ (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films [which holds] approximately 11,000 digitized and videotape titles (all originally derived from film) and a large collection of home movies, amateur and industrial films acquired since 2002” (from Prelinger Archives “About” page). The media material here can provide a wide range of uses for the development of editing or vfx skills and as a treasure-trove of footage for use in original projects of all sorts.  Here is an article about the archive from Open Culture, or you can go directly to the Prelinger Archives.

Still from Charles Burnett’s classic Killer of Sheep

For Black History Month, film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott of the New York Times have compiled an interactive list of culturally, artistically, and historically important motion pictures.  This resource is quite valuable and can also serve as a springboard for interesting discussion.  Along with the movies they have chosen — one per day for the month of February — there are many others noted in their comments and footnotes.  Many directors and other figures from film history who are featured in Moving Images, such as Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee, and Charles Burnett, are highlighted among the selections.

Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to one of the true pioneers and master directors of cinema: Sergei Eisenstein.  In fact, the splash page illustration of Chapter 1 of Moving Images is inspired from one of Eisenstein’s most famous films, The Battleship Potemkin.  Funny enough, you can look to the last post on mediateacher.net to see a reference to the core of one of the key aspects of Eisenstein’s work and the innovations in editing that he and his peers were establishing in their work, montage style of editing and the meanings that can be forged through the relationships and juxtapositions of shots.  The example used there is expressed in the idea known as the Kuleshov Effect.  For more, here is a fine recent article on Eisenstein and another of his celebrated films, October, by Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian

And for a YouTube essay on the function and form of the Kuleshov Effect, check out this video by Folding Ideas.

About a year and a half ago, I posted an end-of-the-summer piece titled A “stink bucket of disappointment” or just some criminally wacky fun? about the movie Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer (whose latest is Bright) and edited by John Gilroy.  For a very interesting critical investigation of editing related to Suicide Squad, I highly recommend this video: The Art of Editing and Suicide Squad It is from the YouTube channel Folding Ideas (by Dan Olson), and you can start at 01’20” into the video where he starts getting into the analysis of the movie’s editing.  

In fact, the piece is as much about cohesive storytelling as it is about the craft of editing.  There are many excellent breakdowns of issues to consider in the process of editing, as discussed throughout Moving Images, particularly in Chapters 1 and 2.  And Olson even references the Kuleshov Effect (at 17’30”) to help explain glaring weaknesses to the opening of Suicide Squad.  It is a revealing example of analyzing the effect of composition choices with editing.  It is worth pointing out that for a full analysis of issues with story and the filmmaking process with Suicide Squad, it would be critical to reference the shooting script by David Ayer.  Many answers to issues posed in the editing analysis could be revealed there.

P.S.: And here is a vlog post by Folding Ideas specifically about The Kuleshov Effect.