In space, no one can hear you scream.

Silence seems to have become a key cue in the science fiction film, from Scott and Cameron's iterations of the Alien franchise (Alien UK/US 1979 and Aliens US 1986), through Nolan's Interstellar (US 2014), and Cuaron's Gravity (US 2014) to the recent outing Arrival (US 2016 dir: Denis Villeneuve). Silence is a of course a feature of a vacuum, but is this why it is also a feature of some science fiction film? There are obvious connotations one could read into ...

Two german films, different histories

Last week I attended a film presentation at the London Reviews of Books bookshop by the novelist Ali Smith (her novel ‘How to be both’ is extraordinary, try to read this). The film was Mädchen in uniform (Germany 1931 dir: Leontine Sagan). I mention this as the film was an interesting descendant of the expressionist film making from the previous decade, in many of the same ways that ‘M’ (Germany 1931 dir: Fritz Lang) was. Both films were popular in their ...

A guide I use for students to prepare their oral presentations

In my teaching universe we are currently going through the second practice for our students at the oral presentation. Our process introduced them to it in December, where they prepare a series of slides on a sequence addressing the full pressie assessment criteria (well, all except the socio-cultural context). This is a weighted assessment task for semester one and helps determine semester performance grades. At the beginning of semester two our students, acting on detailed feedback from their slide 'presentation', ...

Visual Arts Internal Assessment Upload: Quick Overview

It’s April! That means for many of us its VISUAL ARTS UPLOAD MONTH! Of the three components the most complex in terms of files and the upload process is the Exhibition The aim of this post is to give some explanations and guidance in relation to the scary IBIS Internal Assessment upload process. For more information about the visual arts upload please feel free to refer to my February post The Digital Upload: First Time For The New Course – What To Do! Please also ...

The HL option and Paper 3

Happy New Year to all of you!  The weather has definitely changed course for most of you, and while most of my posts have been written with a blue sky and warm temperatures, the mountains of New Mexico have had near-record amounts of snow and the temperatures have been very cold, even for this altitude. With the new year comes a new semester, term or quarter for many of you.  While I used the past term to cover the SL requirements ...

‘Drones’ (Rosenthal US 2013): the rarest of things in popular cinema. An allegory.

This one is just a relatively quick post. More by way of recommendation than anything else. I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a film called 'Drones' (Rosenthal US 2013). Essentially I was searching for some kind of guilty pleasure to pass a lonesome evening by, and such a contemporary take on the 'war on terror was potentially diverting. This film promised a fairly conventional low budget fare, the action being confined as it was to a simple functional box of ...

An exercise for introducing narrative complexity to new film students

This is an assignment which I've been using for a long time now, but it is thought provoking and attempts to position new film students thinking about how images alone can have huge narrative potential. Formerly I used it as an intro to semiotics (anchoring signs to more specific interpretations, enigma and action codes etc.) but this could equally be attached to other critical approaches to narrative such as Propp, Todorov or Campbell, and adapted directly to the hero/ine's journey or three ...

Exercise exploring film making techniques – Shot selections

The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional. My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca ...

Moderators’ advice for your IA

Subject Reports The IB Diploma Psychology subject reports were published recently. They are where examiners and IB Diploma moderators give feedback on the quality of the May 2104 exams and the IAs.  This month we will take a look at what the moderators said about the IAs, both HL and SL.  Those of you taking your exams in May 2015 have probably now started your IA experimental study, and those of you taking your exams in November 2015 or May 2016 ...

COMPARING OLD AND NEW: 14 DIFFERENCES continued

In my last post (August) I discussed seven differences between the current and the new course. Here are some thoughts about another seven differences  1. Fewer final pieces in the exhibition Page 55 of the new guide says Formal requirements of the task—SL   SL students submit 4–7 artworks. Formal requirements of the task—HL HL students submit 8–11 artworks. What does this mean? Well, in some ways the numbers reflect the weighting. The exhibition accounts for 40% of the whole rather than 60% in the old ...