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Film: Websites

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Film studies

Evaluating web sources

Anyone can put information on the web, so how can you tell if it's reliable and accurate?

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?  Do they have qualifications/a reputation in the relevant area?
  • Is the web site affiliated with anorganisation?  If so, what is the mission of that organisation?
  • Has the information been properlyreferenced?  Are the references authoritative?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Is there any reason for bias on this web site?
  • Has the website been well presented in an appropriately academic style?
  • Has anyone recommended this web site to you?
  • Does the information match what you have learned from other sources?

Open access online journals

Using websites to find information in your field

Useful websites that are relevant to Film studies include:

American Film Institute Catalog of American Feature Films

Association of Performing Arts Collections
Provides a single point of entry for finding and searching performing arts collections in the UK.

British Film Catalogue
For films made since 1998

British Film Institute
This site offers a wealth of information and resources about British film and TV.  Also available is online access to the catalogue of one of the world's largest research collections of materials on British (and international) cinema, and television

Britain on Film
The BFI's platform for 1000s of titles from film & TV archives in the UK, about life in Britain (part of the wider BFIPlayer online resource)

Cineteca Virtual
150 Chilean films onlinen (University of Chile)

Filmarchives online
Gateway to film archives from all over Europe, focusing on non-fiction film.

Iinterpretive and detailed plot synopses, review commentary, an unparalleled wealth of film reference material, and historical background for hundreds of classic Hollywood/American and other English-language films in the last century.

Instituto Cervantes Library blog on Spanish and Latin American film;

Internet Movie Database

Dedicated website on British video and film art containing an archive of works by film and video artists, including synopses, artist biographies, stills and streamed clips, in-depth features and essays on different artists who work with film and video.

Movie Review Query Engine
Contains reviews of nearly 100,000 films, taken from a variety of sources including newspapers, other websites and entertainment magazines.

Access to over 150 Spanish films online;

Scottish Screen Archive
Scotland's national moving images collection. Over 1000 film clips and full films are available on the site along with a catalogue detailing all of the films available from Scottish Screen.
Screenonline is a website devoted to the history of British film and television, and to Britain's social history as revealed by film and television. It features hundreds of hours of video clips from the collections of the bfi National Film and Television Archive, alongside thousands of stills, posters and press books, several hours of recorded interviews with film and television personalities together with a wealth of contextual information. It should be noted that the video and audio clips can only be accessed through university computers, not through a home computer.

Finding information on the internet

There is a huge range of information on the Internet, but you need to be vigilant about the quality of what you find. Using subject gateways and sites which are created by subject specialists will ensure that you find information that has been evaluated for its academic quality.

Wikipedia - good or bad?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anyone who wishes to contribute. Many people are constantly editing Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour. For more information, see About Wikipedia.

Anyone with access to the internet can edit almost every page, and this is both the strength and the weakness of the site: 

  • Because there are so many people willing to freely give their time and expertise to Wikipedia, the content can be an excellent introduction to a topic, well-referenced, and mistakes are often corrected quickly. 
  • However, because edits can be made anonymously, we cannot know whether the author is an expert on the subject or whether they have a particular agenda to push.

Wikipedia is not considered to be a suitably authoritative source of information for academic study.

It is not a good idea to reference Wikipedia in your assignments. If you choose to use Wikipedia as a starting point for your topic, however, the article will introduce you to the key vocabulary for the topic which will be useful for further searching in and bibliographic databases.

For guidance on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, see Evaluating Wikipedia article quality.