New Fall Class Opportunity: Film Studies

Registration deadline has been extended to 9/1!

Hello all, Marc here.

While New England Debate is obviously focused primarily on Speech and Debate, this is our first attempt to expand beyond that scope to provide further educational opportunities.

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out” -Martin Scorsese

Movies are the predominant art form (and vehicle of entertainment) of the 20th and 21st centuries, and by studying them we can understand a lot about the shape of the last 120 years, historically and culturally. Additionally, movies, while incorporating aspects of many other artforms (composition, music, acting, etc.), are their own unique medium. By studying what makes movies a distinct form of artistic expression we can better understand art as a whole.

“It’s not what a movie is about, but how it is about it.” -Roger Ebert

This class will focus on analyzing narrative movies with an emphasis on form and theme. That is, what does the movie communicate, and what does it do to communicate it? It will be a class heavily focused on lively discussion, where we will talk about how composition, editing, sound, acting, movement, etc. contribute to the work. We’ll discuss all sorts of related topics, from philosophy to theology to psychology to art to criticism, or whatever else comes up over the course of conversation. The class will also serve as a brief introduction to the history of film, as we’ll be viewing movies from the past 120+ years.


Date and Time: One hour discussions every Tuesday, 9/13-12/6, skipping the week of Thanksgiving. Time in the afternoon or evening EST, to best fit registrant’s schedules.

Workload and Expectations: Students should expect to be required to view one feature-length movie and perhaps some short readings per week, and to contribute extensively to class discussions. The class will be held via Zoom, and students will be expected to have, to the best of their ability, video on during the class (to aid discussion). I will make sure all movie assignments are available for free or via digital rental.

There will be one 1000-word paper of film criticism each student will work on throughout the class, due at the end. It’ll be a pass/fail class based on completing that paper and contributing to discussions. If parents want to assign a letter grade, I can work with them to assist with that.

Age and Content: The class is designed for high school students 15+ years old. I’ll work with parents, to the best of my ability, to make sure I’m not assigning any material they’re uncomfortable with. My strict rules for objectionable content in this class are: No R-rated movies and no nudity beyond what you would expect to see at a public pool.

As this class is largely about the study of filmmaking and form, I’ll require students to see un-altered versions of the movies we’ll be studying. “Clean” edited versions, that remove objectionable content, therefore, do not meet this requirement.

I will publish the full list of movies we’ll be watching for this class before registration fully opens so parents can have full knowledge of what will be assigned and can voice any concerns before committing. Parents are also welcome to watch the movies alongside their students and observe any and all class discussions. Here’s a list of some of the movies I’m considering:

A Trip to The Moon (Melies, 1902)
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924)
The Third Man (Reed, 1949)
Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950)
Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962)
Playtime (Tati, 1967)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)
Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
The Bourne Supremacy (Greengrass, 2004)
The Tree of Life (Malick, 2011)

Price: $100

Contact and Sign Up: If you have any questions, email us at

If you want to sign up, fill out this form to express your interest. The class will not happen unless I receive at least 6 sign-ups by 9/1, so tell your friends! Full registration with payment and the final list of films will go out once that minimum interest threshold is met.

I love film and I’m extremely excited to explore and discuss great movies with you all this fall!

-Marc Davis

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