Ways of researching film at the State Library Victoria
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 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 section.
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.
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 (eg motion picture* "United States" feminis* (using * to include both feminism and feminist) or 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.
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 (usually linked to 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.
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.
There is a number of Indian specific film journals in our collection dated between the 1970s and the early 1990s.
Directors in British and Irish cinema : a reference companion / edited by Robert Murphy ; associate editors: Geoff Brown and Alan Burton
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*.
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. The Parisian based nouvelle vague (New Wave) movement 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.
Search for Japan - Motion Picture* japan
Search South and North Korea - Motion Picture* Korea
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*
Search term for Italy - motion picture* Ital*
Search term for Greece - motion picture* Greece
Search term for Belgium - motion picture* Belgium
Search term for Netherlands - motion picture* Netherlands
Search term for Sweden - motion picture* Swed*
Search term for Denmark - motion picture* Denmark
Search term for Finland - motion picture* Finland
Searching for resources on European film - motion picture* europe*
There is much writing available on Russian/Soviet Union cinema. Early Soviet era cinema brought innovations regarding montage and documentary.
Search term for Czech - motion picture* Czech*
Search term for Poland - motion picture* poland
Search term for Yugoslavia - motion picture* Yugoslav*
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.
Search term for Brazil - motion picture* Brazil
Search term for Canada - motion picture* Canad*
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.
Search terms for Africa - motion picture* Africa* NOT "african american" NOT "afro american"
Search term for South Africa - motion picture* South Africa*
Nollywood is a (controvesial) nickname used to discuss the Nigerian film industry, both its general history and in particular the time period since the development of lost cost production and exhibition formats (like video cassette). 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 Arabic film - motion picture* Arab*
Search term for Turkey - motion picture* Turkey
Search term for Israel - motion picture* Israel*
Search term for Iran - motion picture* Iran*
A number of Iranian films and filmmakers have had constant success in the arthouse film markets worldwide.
Searching for film resources relating to a country or continent can be as simple. Using a wildcard asterisk (*) can broaden your search term in a useful way as it will include variations of a word you include it with, and when used at the end of a word it will include any extra letters. 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) and the name of the country or region/continent you are interested in should give you results. For example Japan* film, Japan* cinema, "motion picture*" Japan*
Using genre terms or film theory terms can narrow your search. For example: motion picture* France feminis* (use * for either feminism or feminist).
Article search - if you are looking for magazine and newspaper articles, try the Article search option. Choose it 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.
As of June 15 2020 the Library is open with reduced spaces and services.
Our Ask A Librarian reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.