Media Literacy: Introduction

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About the Academy and Its Awards

The first Academy Awards® were handed out on May 16, 1929, not long after the advent of “talkies.” By 1930, enthusiasm for the ceremony was so great that a Los Angeles radio station did a live, one-hour broadcast, and the Awards show has enjoyed broadcast coverage ever since. The number and types of awards have grown and changed over the years to keep up with the development of the motion picture industry. Awards of Merit—Oscars®—are presented in each of the following categories and their subdivisions: acting, animated film, art direction, cinematography, costume design, directing, documentary film, film editing, foreign language film, makeup, music, best picture, short film, sound, visual effects, and writing. In an age when awards shows seem as common as nightly news programs, the Academy Awards® are unique because the judges—the more than 6,000 Academy members—are top filmmakers from around the world. The question “Who gets the Oscar®?” is decided by a true jury of peers. Honoring the top film achievements of the year provides a wonderful opportunity to teach your students about the many craft areas and the many communication techniques that play a part in creating a motion picture. The Academy Awards® ceremony is only one of many activities sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Filmmaking is by nature a collaborative process, with each creative area supporting and being supported by the others. This kit focuses on an important aspect of the filmmaking environment—media literacy.

Selecting Films for Student Viewing

Students may select the films they wish to view for the following activities, or you may wish to suggest films that are appropriate.

The following feature films have been nominated for or have won an Academy Award® for Best Picture,are available on DVD, and may be appropriate for your students (●indicates winners):

“Kings Row” (1942), “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943), “Great Expectations” (1947), “Johnny Belinda” (1948), “Born Yesterday” (1950), “The Quiet Man” (1952), “Roman Holiday” (1953), “The Caine Mutiny” (1954), ●“On the Waterfront” (1954), “Friendly Persuasion” (1956), “The Defiant Ones” (1958), ●“West Side Story” (1961), “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), ●“In the Heat of the Night” (1967), “M*A*S*H” (1970), “Sounder” (1972), “American Graffiti” (1973), “Chinatown” (1974), “Jaws” (1975), “Coming Home” (1978), “Breaking Away” (1979), “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (1980), “Elephant Man” (1980), ●“Ordinary People” (1980), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Tootsie” (1982), “Witness” (1985), “Broadcast News” (1987), “Hope and Glory” (1987), “Mississippi Burning” (1988), “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989), “Dead Poets Society” (1989), “My Left Foot” (1989), ●“Schindler’s List” (1993), “Quiz Show” (1994), “Babe” (1995), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), “Good Will Hunting” (1997), ●“Titanic” (1997), “Life Is Beautiful” (1998), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), “Erin Brockovich” (2000), ●“A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003), “Mystic River” (2003), ●●“Million Dollar Baby” (2004), “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), ●“Crash” (2005), “Babel” (2006), “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), and “Juno” (2007).

Some other films referred to in this kit:
“Madame Curie” (1943), “So Proudly We Hail!” (1943), “The Enchanted Cottage” (1945), “Rebel without a Cause” (1955), “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “Harold and Maude” (1971), “The Shining” (1980), “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), “The Nutty Professor” (1996), “The Matrix” (1999), “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), “Legally Blonde” (2001), “Save the Last Dance” (2001).

Media Literacy: Reading Between the Frames

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Complete Media Literacy Guide (PDF)

Activity 1: Media Survey

Activity 2: Reading a Film

Activity 3: Subjective or Objective

Activity 4: Your Turn

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