Assignment:   Short Papers


Due Dates:  10/18/07 and 11/27/07


The first paper will cover any of the films screened in class through the midterm.  The second paper can be over any documentary produced for film and/or television, however, I strongly recommend films from the following list since the class will screen one of these in the last sessions of the semester :   Winged Migration; Spellbound; Capturing the Friedmans; Fog of War; Bowling For Columbine; Fahrenheit 9/11; Supersize Me; Gunner Palace; Control Room; The Smartest Guys in the Room; An Inconvenient Truth; Iraq:  The War Profiteers; Why We Fight; any of the other titles we consider for the last week.


Your basic task for both papers is to develop a close analysis of one documentary film, or a comparison/contrast of themes and styles within two or more films.


Any information drawn from secondary sources must be footnoted appropriately.


Papers should be about five (5) typed, double-spaced pages.  Print on one side of a sheet.  Use standard 12 point Courier type and one-inch top and side margins.  Print quality must be black and well-defined (no faded or smeared print, please.)  Proofread for correct spelling and grammar.  (NOTE:  You will lose one point for every two non-repeated, technical errors in your paper.  Technical errors include misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and grammatically incorrect sentences.)  Please make sure that you number pages accurately




1.             Does the essay have a central idea?  Is it truly "central"--that is, does it bring the other main ideas in the essay into focus?  Do the essay's main ideas relate back to and help explain the central idea?


                Examples of central idea statements:


Implicit within Nanook of the North's "romantic" view of nature is the idea that                people  must control their natural environment in order to survive.


                The River is a "commercial" for the TVA.


2.             Is the essay clearly and logically organized?  Does the essay have an introduction that presents the central idea (the essay's basic purpose), a body that explains what the reasons are that develop the central idea, and a conclusion that reinforces and re-expresses the importance of the central idea?  An explanation should build point by point, idea by idea.


3.             Is there supporting material--specific evidence that supports and clarifies the main idea?  Evidence should be specific and clearly described.  The relevant examples you provide will demonstrate your familiarity with the functions of film form.


4.             Is the writing clear?  Proofread for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation--better yet, have someone else act as a copy editor for you.  Leave yourself enough time to reread and double-check your writing.  


I will be very glad to give you informal feedback on early drafts of your papers.


Completed papers turned in early (not less than one week before the due date) may be revised and resubmitted for a new grade.


Papers turned in after the due dates will lose five points per day.