Film research and cinema studies guide

Ways of researching film at the State Library Victoria

Researching films by country and region

United States of America

Most of the film books in the library are about USA films. There is a very wide range of material available and using a basic search (motion picture* United States) will bring up an overload of results.

One suggestion is to combine search terms.

To find items on American cinema relating to feminism try motion picture* "United States" feminis* (using * to include both feminism and feminist)  

To find items on American cinema relating to comedy try film* "United States" comedy.

Another search term to try is Hollywood, though you will want to filter and combine search terms for it as well. 


A selection of books

Below is a very small selection of writing on USA film that might be useful.


State Library Victoria holds many key academic film journals that are based in the USA (mostly published by USA universities). Their content includes much USA film but their scope is global cinema. Magazines like Variety and Hollywood reporter are specifically about the USA film industry. Hollywood quarterly (1940s-1950s) and Premiere (monthly that ran 1980s-2000s) were good all round film news and entertainment magazines focusing on USA film. The Media history digital library links to many historical USA film magazines.

USA specific databases

The databases mentioned on the 'Research' page of this guide should give good results for USA films. Try the databases below as well.


India's vibrant cinema has been a mainstay of Indian popular culture. Film production in India is amongst the highest in the world, and the Indian musical (known around the world as Bollywood) has spawned a massive music and star industry. The Indian film industry is not just Bollywood and there have been many important films and filmmakers working in India who do not partake in the musical movie tradition.

Searching tips

motion picture* India* is a good search, though simply typing Bollywood gives plenty of results as well.

A selection of books and magazines

There is a number of Indian specific film journals in our collection dated between the 1970s and the early 1990s.

General books for UK and Ireland

Directors in British and Irish cinema : a reference companion / edited by Robert Murphy ; associate editors: Geoff Brown and Alan Burton

Great Britain - Searching tips

Great Britain - general search ("motion picture*" Britain)

As Britain is a major film producer, as well as a supplier of talent to the USA, there are many film books the library holds. Using other keywords  may help narrow your choices. For example, if you are interested in British comedy films, try  Brit* comedy film*.

Great Britain - book selection


Scotland - general search (motion picture* Scotland)


Ireland - general search (motion picture* Ireland)



France uses film as a key cultural point of identity. Its film industry is heavily subsidised by the government and has protections afforded to it unlike most other film industries in the world.

France is important for not only its film production industry in general but is known as the home of many key film theorists and filmmakers. One of the most influential film making movements, the Parisian based nouvelle vague (New Wave) movies of the late 1950s and 1960s looked at cinema in a different way than Hollywood film did at the time. The ideas explored in the movement had a massive impact on filmmaking in the USA, and all over the world.

Searching tips

France - general search (motion picture* France). Using genre and or film theory terminology with the general search term may narrow your search results.

A selection of books

Some key filmmakers - Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, Claire Denis

East Asia

East Asia - General books

East Asia - Searching tips

Search term for China - Motion picture* china, Search term for Hong Kong - Motion Picture* "Hong Kong", Search term for Taiwan - Motion Picture* Taiwan


China and Hong Kong books on cinema


Japan search tips and books

Search for Japan - Motion Picture* japan

South and North Korea search tips and books

Search South and North Korea - Motion Picture* Korea


Western Europe

Europe has traditionally (and continues to be) an important area for filmmaking, both in terms of film production and film industry in general. For the larger European countries, much has been written and can be accessed at the State Library Victoria.

Due to the amount of writing on German, Spanish, and Italian cinema, using genre and other film terminology with a country search might be needed to narrow one's search results.

Search term for general European film - motion picture* europe*

Key books on European cinema

Germany and Austria: search and key books

Search term for Germany - motion picture* German*. Search term for Austria - motion picture* Austria*.

Italy: search and key books

Search term for Italy - motion picture* Ital*

Spain: search and key books

Search term for Spain - motion picture* Spanish. Another search for Spain -  motion picture* Spain.

Greece: search and key books

Search term for Greece - motion picture* Greece

Belgium: search and key book

Search term for Belgium - motion picture* Belgium

Key filmmakers:  Chantal Akerman

Netherlands (Holland)

Search term for Netherlands - motion picture* Netherlands

Sweden and Nordic countries: key books and search terms

Search term for Sweden - motion picture* Swed*

Search term for Denmark - motion picture* Denmark

Search term for Finland - motion picture* Finland


Eastern Europe

Searching for resources on European film - motion picture* europe*

Russia/Soviet Union: search and key books

There is much writing available on Russian/Soviet Union cinema. Early Soviet era cinema brought innovations regarding montage and documentary.

Search term for Russia - motion picture* Russia*. Search term for Soviet Union - motion picture* Soviet

Czech: search and book

Search term for Czech - motion picture* Czech*

Poland: search and book

Search term for Poland - motion picture* poland

South Eastern Europe countries (including Yugoslavia): search and book

Search term for Yugoslavia - motion picture* Yugoslav*


Latin America and Canada

A good way to search to research filmmaking in countries south of the USA is to use the term motion picture* Latin.

Check the reference books listed below for information on smaller film producing countries. Article searches can also reap more results.

Mexico: search and key books

Brazil, Argentina and South America: search terms and key books

Search term for Brazil - motion picture* Bra*il*

Search term for Argentina - motion picture* Argentin*


Canada: search term and key books

Search term for Canada - motion picture* Canad*


Africa, Iran and the Middle East

Feature film production is strong in a number of countries in these areas, particularly Iran, as well as South Africa, Israel, and Nigeria. Check the reference books listed for information on smaller film producing countries. Article searches can be an effective searching tool for hard-to-find material on African and Middle East film.

Africa: search terms and key books

Search terms for Africa - motion picture* Africa* NOT "african american*" NOT "afro american*"

Search term for South Africa - motion picture* "South Africa*"

Nigeria (including the term Nollywood): search

Nollywood is a (controvesial) nickname used to discuss the Nigerian film industry. Nollywood films are currently produced at a very high rate and are popular in Africa (which is perhaps why Nollywood shares a similar terminology to Hollywood and Bollywood).

Search term for Nollywood. (Note that a search using articles will bring up many more matches)


Iran, Middle East and Arab film: search and key books

Search term for Arabic film - motion picture* Arab*

Search term for Turkey - motion picture* Turkey

Search term for Israel - motion picture* Israel*

Iran: search and key books

Search term for Iran - motion picture* Iran*

A number of Iranian films and filmmakers have had constant success in the arthouse film markets worldwide.

Researching international film

This page includes resources about films from all over the world. Some general worldwide resources are listed as well as more detailed listings for countries and continents.

The Directory of world cinema book series has some good (but not exhaustive) guides to film in certain countries or regions.

Magill's have published a series of annuals on recent cinema that can be viewed online via the State Library Victoria website. Magill's survey of cinema is a multi volume series containing detailed reviews of films worldwide from the silent era until the 1980s. These are on the shelves in the Arts Reading Room in the library.

The International motion picture almanac (1956-2014) was an annual publication that looked at cinema from all over the world and summarised production and exhibition trends for each country.

If you are looking for information on film in newspapers around the world check out the State Library Victoria newspaper guide, or the wikipedia list of online newspaper archives.

Tips for searching national cinema resources

Books about film/cinema are often written with a group of films listed by country or continent.

Writing about individual movies/filmmakers are often placed within the context of a country/continent film culture and history.


Using a wildcard asterisk (*) can broaden your search term by including variations of a spelling of a country. For example, using the asterisk after the n in Japan (Japan*) allows searching for both Japan and Japanese.

Basic terms like 'film' or 'cinema' or "motion picture*" (with quotation marks and asterisk) with the country or region or continent.

For example: Japan* film, Japan* cinema, "motion picture*" Japan*


Using genre terms or film theory terms can focus your search.

For example: motion picture* France feminis* (use * for either feminism or feminist), or film* China action.


Article search - use for online articles. Choose this term from the drop down box that is usually set on Everything except articles.

Do multiple searches for a film if it is in a language other than English. Use the English title and the original language title. Original language information for a film is usually located on websites like the Internet Movie database or Wikipedia.

Recent books on international film: slideshow

Pandora's Box / Pamela Hutchinson

A world redrawn : Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood / edited by Zoe Beloff ; with essays by Hannah Frank and Esther Leslie.

Hybrid modernism : movie theatres in South India / Haubitz + Zoche ; authors/Autoren: Rohan Shivkumar, S.V. Srinivas.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai / Mark Gallagher.