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Film & Media Studies

A guide to resources related to Film & Media Studies

Citing Films

Citing films typically entails a different set of problems from books, and the conventions are different. It's always best to check with your instructor first regarding his or her individual requirements.

Some academic style manuals such as that of the Modern Language Association (MLA) do suggest separate "works cited" entries for films, including significant information such as the title, director, screenwriter, possibly the lead performers, and the release date. However, in practice this is rarely done in academic publishing within film studies. It is usually sufficient to provide the title of the film (in italics, as with book titles), release date, and possibly the director within the main body of the text. For example: Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) or Metropolis (1927).

If you are citing supplementary content from a DVD such as an essay or director's commentary, you should consider creating a works cited entry for that item according to the rules of the style manual you're working with.

It is essential to be clear which version of a particular film you're using for your analysis. Many films are released in different versions for different markets and thus do not even necessarily contain identical footage. F. W. Murnau's Faust (1926), like many films of the silent era, had separate domestic and export negatives constructed from different takes entirely. Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (1964) was released in a 182-minute version in Japan but was initially released in the U.S. in a 125-minute version missing one of its four episodes, and is currently distributed on video in the US in a 161-minute version that is still shortened and re-edited but contains all four episodes. And with the advent of DVD, it is not uncommon for films to have footage added or removed specifically for the DVD release, as opposed to the theatrical release.



  • Citing a Film in MLA. "Typically, begin with the title, italicized. Then give the director and the lead actors (“Perf.”) or narrator (“Narr.”); the distributor; the year of the film’s release; and the medium (“Film,” “Videocassette," "DVD"). If your paper emphasizes a person or category of people involved with the film, you may begin with those names and titles."
    • The Hurt Locker. Dir. Kathryn Bigelow. Perf. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. Summit Entertainment, 2010. Film.
    • Bigelow, Kathryn, dir. The Hurt Locker. Perf. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. Summit Entertainment, 2010. DVD.
  • Citing a Film in Chicago. The Secret of Roan Inish, directed by John Sayles. 1993; Culver City, CA: Columbia TriStar Home Video, 2000. DVD.

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