Film Appreciation

Film Appreciation


Fall 2011
08/22/2011 - 12/11/2011

Course Information

Section 004
MW 18:00 - 20:20
RG30 3356
Philip Fagan

Office Hours

  • M
    4:50 - 5:50pm
    RGC30 3150
    Also by appointment.
  • T
    4:50 - 5;50pm
    EVC 8313
    Also by appointment.
    Voice mail: 512-223-1790-26442

Course Requirements

Please Note:  You should bring your syllabus and the accompanying course calendar to each class meeting.  The content of the syllabus and course calendar are subject to change at any time.  You are responsible for keeping track of any such changes. Additionally, you should regularly check your ACC email and Blackboard. Blackboard may be used for announcements, assignments, course documents, email communications, and posting study guides and grades. As you are automatically enrolled on Blackboard, you are responsible for all such information.The instructor is not responsible if important information is not received by students who do not check their ACC e-mail or blackboard regularly. Checking Blackboard frequently is part of the course curriculum.  Blackboard login instructions can be found at


Also, become familiar with the Learning Lab and Computer Labs on campus for computer and printer access as well as tutoring in writing, reading, note taking, and exam stategies.




There will be two papers/presentations, which will be assigned and discussed in class (see calendar). Both papers will examine the same study film and will draw on subjects presented in readings and lectures as well as your own observations, critical thinking, and knowledge pertaining to the course material. You will present the content of your papers to the class on the assigned dates and be graded on the content of the paper as well as your presentation skills. The second presentation will incorporate a film clip to illustrate one or more points from your final paper. Each paper will constitute 15% of your final grade for a total of 30%. Papers/Presentations are due on Wednesday, September 28 andMonday November 28. Late work on papers/ presentations and emailed papers will not be accepted.



There will be a midterm and a final essay exam. The exams will each consist of two essay prompts, which you will address at length demonstrating college-level writing ability in approximately 300 words per essay. Essay exams will be prepared for by attending lectures, taking notes, and studying the course material. Possible essay prompts will be posted on Blackboard prior to the exams. Students should use these prompts to practice their essay writing and test their knowledge of the course material prior to the exams. The midterm will be cumulative, covering material since the beginning of the semester. The final exam is not cumulative and will cover material since the midterm. Each exam will count as 20% of your grade for a total of 40%. Exams cannot be made up. Your midterm essay exam will be administered in class on Wednesday October 12. Your final essay exam will be administered in the testing center and must becompleted by Wednesday December 7.



There will be five short answer/fill-in-the-blank format quizzes throughout the semester. The material covered on quizzes will not be cumulative. Your lowest quiz grade will be dropped and the remaining four will make up 20% of your final grade.. Quizzes cannot be made up. See the calendar for quiz dates.



There is a strict attendance policy for this course. Attendance and participation will constitute 10% of your final grade. Each student is allowed two absences without penalty throughout the semester. Four tardies will constitute an absence, and if you are more than fifteen minutes late to class or decide to leave early, you will also be counted absent. Three or more absences will impact your attendance grade as indicated below:


2 absences or less:  10

3 absences:               7

4 absences:               3

5 absences:               2

6 absences:               0

7 absences:               Withdrawal from course by instructor or F for semester.



 Unless you are sick or have an emergency, I highly encourage you to attend all classes and show up on time. Much of the lecture material will not come directly from your text. On occasion, lecture topics may be switched or a different topic may be presented. Again, missed exams, quizzes, paper deadlines, and presentations cannot be made up. In short, it will be impossible for you to pass this course with poor attendance. If you have some preexisting situation that will keep you from attending class regularly or getting to class on time, this is not the course for you at this time. The instructor reserves the right to administratively withdraw any student based on disciplinary reasons, poor academic performance, and/or attendance at any time.


Austin Community College permits students to be absent from classes for the observances of a religious holy day. Students are permitted to be absent, without penalty, from an examination or from submitting an assignment scheduled for that day. Students are responsible for notifying professors in writing prior to the absence, but no later than the 15th day after the first day of the semester, of the religious holy day(s) that will be missed. Students must complete required assignments within two (2) days following the religious holy day on which the absence occurred.



Late course work will not be accepted. Exams cannot be rescheduled or made up. E-mailed work will not be accepted. In certain extremely rare situations, the instructor may consider exceptions to this policy, but don’t test it.



On occasion, the instructor may provide optional extra credit assignments. If so, such opportunities will be available to all students. Extra credit questions may also be included in exams and quizzes.


The instructor may also add a fixed number of points to the scores of student work in the event overall class scores on a certain assignment are lower than anticipated. In the case of a curve, all students will receive the same amount of extra points.




                        Attendance/Participation        10

                        4 Quizzes                                20 (5 points each)

                        2 Exams                                  40 (20 points each)

                        2 Papers/Presentations            30 (15 points each)                 

                                                                                                                                                                                  Total                                     100



100-90:  A                 Incomplete:  I

                        89-80:    B        Withdrawal:  W

                        79-70:    C

                        69-60:    D

                        59-0:      F

*ACC does not post grades. The College will mail your grades to you. 



Please note that the last day to drop the course is Thursday November 17. If you choose to drop a course for whatever reason, it is your personal responsibility to do so administratively. You will NOT be automatically dropped if you quit coming to class; you will receive a failing grade. However, instructors do reserve the option of dropping students due to poor performance and/or attendance.


A grade of I (incomplete) is granted only rarely.  If the instructor accepts your reasons for needing this grade, you must do the following: 1)Schedule an individual conference with the instructor before Thursday November 17.2) Sign the Incomplete form, available from the instructor. 3) Understand that the grade of “C” is the highest you can receive if you take an Incomplete. 4) Understand that any Incomplete, which is not completed by the scheduled date automatically, becomes an “F.”



This is a college-level course and students are expected to conduct themselves in an adult professional manner. Respect yourselves, each other, and the classroom. Please be on time for class meetings! Excessive tardiness will be counted as an absence. Cell phones should be turned offand put away for the duration of class (if some sort of personal situation makes this impossible, please notify me). If you are texting or playing with your phone during class, you will be asked to leave. No eating, but you may bring drinks into the classroom. If you choose to sleep, you will be asked to leave. If you are using your laptop for purposes other than classroom activity, you will lose the privilege of using it in class. There will be zero tolerance for academic dishonesty on all course work. Also, refrain from talking during screenings. You are not in your living room with family and friends; you are enrolled in a college course to study film in a serious and mature manner. Talkers and texters will be asked to leave and will be counted absent for the class meeting of the offense.


Course Text: Giannetti, L. (2011). Understanding Movies (Twelfth Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Other than your own analyses in papers/presentations, all course material will be drawn from class lectures, screenings, the above text, and handouts or Blackboard postings. The class calendar notes which portions of the text should be read before each class meeting. Each student is responsible for bringing their copy of the textbook, Blackboard postings,  and handouts to each class in order to facilitate discussion. However, the textbook is a supplement to class lectures and discussions, not vice-versa. The majority of material for which you will be held accountable will come from lectures.

Course Subjects

CLASS #        DAY/DATE                 TOPIC


1                      Mon/ Aug 22               Introduction to Class/ Film Form and Ideology


2                      Wed/ Aug 24              Film Form and Ideology continued

                                                            Reading Due:  Chapters 7 & 10


3                      Mon/ Aug 29               Screening: Walker(Alex Cox, 1987)

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 1



4                      Wed/ Aug31               Cinematographic Design, Movement and Mise-en-


                                                            Reading Due:  Chapter 2


5                      Wed/ Sep 7                 Montage & Postproduction

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 3

Paper/ Presentation #1 assigned



6                      Mon/ Sep 12                Sound Design & Synthesis

                                                            Reading due:   Chapter 4  


7                      Wed/ Sep 14               Screening: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

Reading due: Chapter 5

8                       Mon/ Sep 19                Quiz 1

Modernism & the International Art  Cinema


9                      Wed/ Sep 21               Modernism & the International Art Cinema

Reading due: Blackboard notes on Modernism and the International Art Cinema.


10                    Mon/ Sep 26                 Quiz 2

Screening: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog, 2009)   


11                    Wed/ Sep 28               Paper/ Presentation #1 due


12                    Mon/ Oct 3                  Narrative and Storytelling

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 9

                                                            Blackboard: Narrative and Storytelling in the IAC.


13                    Wed/ Oct 5                 Models of Film Production and Reception:

                                                           The Auteur Theory & the French New Wave

                                                            Reading Due:  Chapter 11

                                                            Blackboard: Exam essay prompts      


14                    Mon/ Oct 10                Quiz 3

                                                            Screening: Ed Wood(Tim Burton, 1994)


15                    Wed/ Oct 12               Midterm Exam                                                         


16                    Mon/ Oct 17                Defining Genre:

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 8


17                    Wed/ Oct 19               Defining Genre: A Look at Film Noir


18                    Mon/ Oct 24                Genre Evolution and Hybridization: The Baroque



19                    Wed/ Oct 26               Screening: McCabe & Mrs. Miller

(Robert Altman, 1971)

Paper/ Presentation #2 assigned


20                    Mon/ Oct 31                Acting, Drama, and Character

                                                            Reading Due:  Chapter 6


21                    Wed/ Nov 2                Screening:  The Wrestler (Daren Aronofsky, 2008)

                                                            Reading Due: Mickey Rourke essay on Blackboard



22                    Mon/ Nov 7                 Quiz 4

Synthesis screening: Citizen Kane

(Orson Welles, 1941)

Reading due: Chapter 12


23                    Wed/ Nov 9                Alternative Cinema: Documentary Film, the

American Underground, and Third Cinema


24                    Mon/ Nov 14               Screening: Until the Light Takes Us

 (Aaron Aites & Audrey Ewell 2008)


25                   Wed/ Nov 16               Screening: Clips from American avant-garde,                                                                        Underground, and Experimental Cinema                  


26                    Mon/ Nov 21               Ireland: A Case Study in Third Cinema


27                    Wed/ Nov 23              Screening: Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass, 2002)

                                                            Blackboard: Notes on Ireland as a Third Cinema


28                    Mon/ Nov 28               Paper/ Presentation #2 due


29                    Wed/ Nov 30              Postmodernism: Where do we go from here?

Blackboard: Notes on Postmodernism and Exam essay prompts



30                    Mon/ Dec 5                 Quiz 5

Screening: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

                                                            (Michel Gondry, 2004)          


31                    Wed/ Dec 7                 No Class meeting. Last day to take Final Exam

in the Testing Center.

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines the aesthetics of cinema and key elements of the art of filmmaking as well as the cultural relevance and critical analysis of film. In particular, we will explore this topic through a wide variety of issues including various facets of production, structure, technique, historical context, reception, style, genre, ideology, theory, and cultural studies. Class meetings will consist of film screenings (both clips and full works), lecture, and discussion.


Prerequisites: Skill Set E:Must be able to read and write at the college level.* Course Type: T.


Please note:Some of the films we will watch contain adult themes. As in real life, many such films contain portrayals of sexuality and violence, as well as coarse language. If you are highly sensitive to such elements this might not be the course for you. If you are under the age of 17, you must bring this to the instructor’s attention.


Additionally,this is a fast-paced, lecture-based, seminar-style course, not a film festival. Students will be required to take extensive notes and ask questions as they arise in order to succeed on essay exams, quizzes, and papers. If you do not take notes during this course you will have great difficulty passing it.


COURSE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: The goal of this course is to take the student beyond the role of a passive spectator of movies, and to explore how films are made and critically received from a cultural, ideological, and theoretical standpoint. Rather than viewing a film as some preexisting piece of art and/or entertainment, students are encouraged to develop their faculties for critical thinking regarding the appreciation of film form and how it relates to culture and ideology, and to demonstrate an ability to discuss and write about these topics. Ultimately, students will develop critical methodologies for analyzing film form and meaning.

* *6.1 Reading: Locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and documents - including manuals, graphs, and schedules to perform tasks. Learns from text by determining the main idea or essential message; identifies relevant details, facts, and specifications; infers or locates the meaning of unknown or technical vocabulary, and judges the accuracy, appropriateness, style, and plausibility of reports, proposals, or theories of other writers.

6.2 Writing: Communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; records information completely and accurately; composes and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, proposals, graphs, flow charts; uses language, style, organization, and format appropriate to the subject-matter, purpose, and audience. Includes supporting documentation and attends to level of detail; checks, edits, and revises for correct information, appropriate emphasis, form, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.