Argumentation Unit: Documentary Film Analysis
Students will work with partners to analyze the persuasive and rhetorical techniques used in a documentary film
of their choice (students will be responsible for obtaining a copy of their documentary). Students will complete a
PowerPoint presentation of analysis to share with the class. This project will be completed on the students’ own
time outside of class; therefore, please choose a partner with whom you will be able to work outside of class. The
presentation will also be prepared outside of class time. You must make sure that the version of PowerPoint you
use is compatible with school computers BEFORE you give your presentation! That will not be an excuse.
Watch the documentary with your partner. Then prepare a PowerPoint presentation based on the rhetorical
analysis chart we used to analyze An Inconvenient Truth. You must also have a conclusion relating your final
analysis of the documentary’s effectiveness. You must also provide us with some background information about
your documentary before you begin presenting your analysis to us. In addition, show 1 SHORT clip from your
documentary as evidence. Each partner must participate in the PowerPoint presentation. Notice that I am not
including a specific number of slides or presentation length; rather, use good judgment in determining whether
your final presentation fully considers each of the requirements and also considers the complexity of the
documentary’s topic. Conversely, be sure that your presentation is not overly long and tedious.
Analyze: rhetorical strategies, filmmaking strategies, purpose, audience, tone, occasion, speaker, structure
Organization: 1) background of documentary and the central issue, 2) analysis of rhetoric, 3) conclusion
You can also include some official reviews of your documentary (from reliable sources, not random people on
YouTube or elsewhere).
*I am looking for sophisticated analysis of the documentary in your slides. Look for how the
documentary uses the three appeals and other elements of argumentation we have discussed in order to
make a point.
This website should be helpful if you don’t know which documentary you would like to analyze:
*Please be aware of the film ratings! I have not screened every documentary that is possible to use for this
project, so please use your own common sense. Using inappropriate material will result in a failing grade. Each
group will present a different film; these titles are available on a first come, first serve basis.
Here is a further list of suggestions (you are not limited to these):
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters Wordplay
Mad Hot Ballroom Spellbound
Sicko Fahrenheit 9/11
Super Size Me Bowling for Columbine
Jesus Camp March of the Penguins
Who Killed the Electric Car? Roger and Me
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? Shake Hands with the Devil
Young @ Heart Mr. Death
All projects will be presented either Monday, Nov 23 or Tuesday, Nov 24.
We will randomly draw presentation days out of a bowl. No late work will be accepted. Again, be sure BEFORE
your presentation that all computer gadgets are functioning.