This guide has been designed as a starting point for research into writing about films.

If you need help, please contact Ivana Niseteo, Liaison Librarian for English, French, French Programs (FASS), Global Humanities, Linguistics, and World Languages & Literatures at 778.782.6838 or or Ask a librarian.

Finding films

When you don't know what you're looking for

  • VideoHound's golden movie retriever [print]
    • Includes category index by country ("Japan"), city ("Paris"), region ("Eastern Europe"), awards (eg, "Academy Awards--Film, foreign language"), director, cast, screenwriter, etc
  • VideoHound's World Cinema [print
    • "Your passport to more than 800 of the most accessible, appealing, and arresting films produced outside the U.S. in the last 100 years." Indexes by country of origin, category (eg, "Anti-war movies", director, etc)
  • Halliwell's Film Guide [print
    • Similar to VideoHound, but lacking a category index. Includes indexes by three- and four-star films, and leading directors
  • Halliwell's: The movies that matter [print]
    • More selective and up-to-date than Halliwell's Film Guide
  • The Film Encyclopedia [online or print
    • Succinct encyclopedic entries on the artistic, technical, and commercial aspects of moviemaking 
  • Library Catalogue: Browse search by subject Motion Pictures--[country] Eg: Motion Pictures -- France; Motion Pictures -- China. This will provide you with books covering the subject and some films themselves. 
  • Library Catalogue: Search by keyword + "Drama" eg "Paris drama" or "India drama"

 When you know what you're looking for

Finding film criticism


To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

  • Motion pictures--[specific geographical place] eg: Motion Pictures -- Japan; Motion Pictures -- Africa
  • [Name of director]--Criticism and interpretation eg: Fellini, Federico -- Criticism and Interpretation ; Truffaut Francois -- Criticism And Interpretation; Kurosawa Akira 1910 -- Criticism And Interpretation
  • [Name of actor] eg: Bergman, Ingrid 1915-1982; Hepburn, Katharine 1907 -2003
  • Search director by keyword; this will retrieve chapters in books (eg: searching "Axel Gabriel" as keyword retrieves the book The Danish directors : dialogues on a contemporary national cinema)

Searching the catalogue

Subject headings are assigned in the bibliographic record of each book. These subject headings use a common vocabulary in to help users find similar books on the same topic. The most effective way of searching is to start with descriptive keywords, then view which subject headings were assigned. 

For example, see the catalogue record for Insiders and outsiders in Russian cinema. Searching for keyword "Russian film" directs you to the subject heading Motion pictures -- Russia (Federation) -- History.

Here is a listing of commonly used subject headings assigned to books in the subject area of film: (To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.)

Motion pictures: This heading is used as a topical heading for general works about motion pictures themselves, including motion pictures as an art form, copyrighting, distribution, editing, plots, production, etc. Used for Cinema; Films; Movies; Moving-pictures.

Motion pictures--Reviews: Collections of motion picture reviews.

Cinematography: Works about the technical aspects of making motion pictures and their projection onto a screen.

Video recording: Works about the technical aspects of making video recordings, i.e., creating and storing moving images in an electronic form and displaying them on an electronic display.

Video recordings--Production and direction: Works about the artistic aspects of making video recordings.

Film criticism: Works on the technique of motion picture reviewing.

Motion picture plays: Term used for Film plays; Film scripts; Filmscripts; Motion picture scripts; Moving-picture plays; Photoplays; Scenarios; Screen plays; Screenplays; Scripts (Motion pictures

Motion picture plays--History and criticism: Works on the criticism of screenplays. 

Journal article databases

Key databases for Film articles and reviews:

  • Film & Television Literature Index: International index to scholarly and popular journal literature on film, television and video.
  • Communication & Mass Media Complete: Indexing & abstracts for over 300 journals in the fields of communication, mass media studies, linguistics and film including full text for nearly 200 journals.
  • International Index to the Performing Arts: Multidisciplinary index to journals for the Performing Arts (drama, theatre, dance, film, television).
  • Academic Search Premier: Multidisciplinary index to full-text articles in academic & popular journals.
  • Nexis Uni: Best resource for reviews in major international newspapers (eg, The Guardian), magazines (eg, The New Yorker) or trade publications (eg, Variety)

Selective bibliography of scholarly approaches to film criticism

Anatomy of film / Bernard F. Dick [print]
Cinema studies: the key concepts / Susan Hayward [print]
Film: A Critical Introduction / Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis [print]
Film art: an introduction / David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson [print]
How to read a film : the world of movies, media, and multimedia : language, history, theory / James Monaco [print]
A short guide to writing about film / Timothy Corrigan [print]
Understanding movies / Louis Giannetti and Jim Leach [print]

International internet resources in English -- associated with, this site provides several "Best Of" lists of foreign films
Midnight Eye -- "The latest and best in Japanese cinema". Run by Japanese film enthusiasts. 
KOFIC (Korean Film Council) -- provides information on Korean films. -- background information about German film. Supported by the federal government and film industry organizations
Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF -- the oldest cinematic institution in Germany and also one of the country's largest. It collects, processes and analyses information on film.

Selected list of important film critics from the popular media

  • Pauline Kael (1919 – 2001; The New Yorker)
  • Jay Scott (1949 – 1993; The Globe and Mail)
  • Nigel Andrews (Financial Times)
  • Philip French (The Observer)
  • Anthony Lane (The New Yorker)
  • Anthony Quinn (The Independent)
  • Tim Robey (The Daily Telegraph)
  • Mike McCahill (The Sunday Telegraph)

(source: Halliwell's films that matter)

Writing Resources