DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND ASSIGNMENTS
FOR USE WITH ANY DOCUMENTARY
- Identify the people, places, events, or aspects of people, society or nature that are the focus of this film. Describe and clarify the significance of each.
- List six facts described in the film that impressed you and explain how each fact relates to the film's premise or theme.
- Did you learn anything from this movie? What was it?
- Nonfiction can enrich viewers in several important ways. Describe any aspect of the film that showed you something you hadn't seen before, caused you to think in a new way, or helped you understand something more thoroughly than before. In addition, describe how it changed your thinking.
- Was there anything that you saw or heard in the film that was unconvincing or which seemed out of place?
- What particularly appealed to you in the cinematic presentation of the film, such as the way in which particular scenes, images, or sounds were presented?
- Describe the progression of the film: how it begins, what stages it passes through, and how it concludes.
- How did the filmmakers try to convince you of the position that the film supports? Look for appeals to logic, emotion, and prejudice.
- Did any of the reasoning given in support of the position advocated by the film seem to be weak or misleading? If so, describe the concept put forward in the film and why you thought the reasoning was flawed.
- Did the film change your mind about any aspect of the subject that it presents? What information, argument or persuasive technique caused you to change your mind?
- Was there something you didn't understand about the film? Is so, what was it?
- What did you like best about the movie? Why?
- What did you like least about the movie? Why?
- Describe any cinematic techniques used in presenting particular scenes, images, or sounds which were designed to appeal to the viewer's emotions and to encourage the viewer to agree with the position advocated by the film, without reliance upon fact or logical argument.
- Did the narration always work well with what was occurring visually in the film? Describe any scenes in which you thought it didn't and your reasons for this conclusion.
- Describe the use of color in the film. Did it advance the emotions the film makers were trying to evoke? How would you have used color in this movie?
- Analyze the use of music in the film. Did it enhance the story that the visual images and the narration were trying to tell? How would you have used music in this movie?
- What was the structure of the movie? Did there appear to be any manipulation in the way in which the scenes were presented or did the presentation appear to be straitforward?
- How did the editing of the film advance the narrative and help the director get his point across?
- If someone asked you whether you would recommend this film, how would you respond? Fully explain your reasons.
- If the filmmakers were to ask you how the film could be improved, what would you tell them? Describe the changes you would suggest in detail and the reasons for your suggestions.
See TWM's Worksheet for Informational Documentaries and Worksheet for Films that Seek to Persuade on Issues of Political or Social Significance
- Students can be asked to write an essay marshalling facts to support or challenge any claim, fact or position taken in the film.
- Students can be asked to write a review of the film.
- The class can be asked to take positions on and to debate any of the issues raised or positions taken in the film. Consider this for a group activity.
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