Around the Table: Film and Cinema
For many, love of the world of film can be an all-consuming passion. There are literally thousands of sites to visit. Because of the very nature of this subject, however, many sites will be content-rich and patience in downloading information may be the order of the day.
Making a start: the major playersA good place to start is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) . Its primary function is to give information about individual films - cast, crew, production details etc. with hot jumps to biographical and other related information. The extent of its filmic referencing system means that IMDb is fast becoming the default site for authoritative information. IMDb also provides useful links to other sites.
Screenshot of the results of an IMDb search
There are three other sites worthy of note in this category. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and there is much overlapping of content. Yahoo's Entertainment: Movies and Films  provides an extensive subject listing of notable sites including - at the last count - 2663 on actors and actresses alone! CineMedia  does very much the same job though it is noticeably better at listing organisations. Omnibus-Eye  claims to be the best media index on the web. It certainly contains a very impressive index of film sites - though while checking some I found quite a few defunct addresses - and is comprehensively indexed and cross-referenced with good search facilities. It is geared more to the academic and professional user than the other major sites. This is reflected in the prominence that subjects such as film history, education, museums, bibliographies, industry and production is given.
Magazines and NewsCineMedia  offers the best index in this category, although, as in the other categories, you may have to cross-refer to the other major players. Yahoo  rather oddly divides its listings between journals and magazines. Perhaps more appropriately we can make a division between those which are designed for the web and those which are, by and large, designed as tasters for a print version. Empire , Premiere  and Flicks  are all fine examples of taster magazines advertising a print product. It can appear that in some respects the web version scores above the print. Reviews are posted more frequently, film news, gossip and business is pretty much as it happens, all offer links to other sites and Flicks and Empire offer such titbits of information as top grossing films, what's showing at local cinemas etc. Entertainment Weekly Online  is also a taster magazine but with far greater full-text content. It also has links to business information, news and extensive archive material. Images  is a fine example of a web magazine with a good mixture of scholarly articles and reviews. Other magazines, such as the well-respected Film Culture  offer very little other than subscriber information, although it does provide a few extracts and a full index of articles dating back to 1955 which could prove useful for the researcher. Specialist magazines are also well catered for. Hong Kong Film Magazine  and Bollywood Pictures  are good examples. The Journal of Film Preservation  has full text articles and is an excellent scholarly journal. As can be expected, most news services are heavily American based. The Hollywood Reporter  offers a daily news service with archives. It does, however, also cover news from farther afield than its name suggests.
Reviews, Film Finders and CinemasReview sites leave the user spoilt for choice. Current films can be found in Empire , Flicks  and the Movie Emporium  which also has an archive of older reviews. Films are normally released in America sooner than anywhere else. This means that you are likely to find a good choice of reviews before a particular film has even reached Europe. The Movie Review Query Engine  for instance, lists 66 reviews for the English Patient, almost a month before its UK release. IMDb  contains links to reviews and critical studies. Since this is a site with an historical bias, there is plenty of scope to build up a decent archive of reviews. 'What's showing' sites are common world-wide. IMDb has a country by country index. In the UK, Yell's Film Finder  gives regional information and also uses the Yellow Pages database to suggest other local services such as taxis, restaurants, pubs. It is not so good on the independent cinema scene. For this you might like to try Freepages . Many independents are developing their own sites. The Metro in Derby  is one example and there is a homepage for the National Film Theatre  which so far, however, doesn't give any programme information.
Film Studios, Business, Organisations and EducationAll the sites mentioned in the major players category have good links here. As film companies open, merge, expand or fold the amount of information is likely to change. Historically, little except current wares are promoted, although some with large back catalogues like Sony  advertise classic collections. For history you could try the appropriate category in Omnibus-Eye . Some sites are better than others but you have to remind yourself that these are all commercial sites with businesses to run! Of these, the prize for the homepage with the most tie-ins must surely go to Disney . Many sites provide sound or video clips. Again, Sony  is a good example. However, if you do not have the right equipment or a bank balance capable of paying for downloading time, you might want to skip these optional extras. Omnibus-Eye  has good links to industry, business and education as does Yahoo  to a lesser extent. Movienet  has something called Film Finders Buzz which gives excellent film industry news, company and personality profiles. It also provides substantial information on the European film scene. Entertainment Weekly Online  is also useful here. IMDb provides a section on business on each individual film which relates to the amount of money each film makes at the box office. Movie Ticket Sales  does pretty much the same though with slightly more information and on a wider historical scale.
Ecran Noir  is a French Canadian site with worldwide coverage. It is patchy, however, and tends to concentrate on the top films. CineMedia  has a good page of links to organisations. The American Film Institute  - which plays host to CineMedia - has an excellent homepage. The British Film Institute  has a page though it is still under construction. For an understanding of how the American film industry regulates itself and how film companies are expected to behave, take a look at the Motion Picture Association of America . The Directory of Film, Video, Communication Schools and Programs  contains probably the best directory of its kind.
Individual Films and Fan PagesIMDb  is again the standard bearer for information on individual film information. It normally contains links to both official and unofficial sites. The entry for Alien, for example, contains links to studio pages, scripts and well thought-out fan sites. The studios are increasingly providing behind-the-scenes glimpses at the making of new releases. The remastered Star Wars trilogy  and Bound  are interesting examples. Usenet and mailing lists are useful for keeping up to date with emerging new sites. Yahoo  and Omnibus-Eye  both make recommendations for the best newsgroups to scan.
Awards and FestivalsIMDb  has a link to known forthcoming festivals, but as sites often change from year to year, you will need to return to this source at regular intervals. Elsewhere, the best and most comprehensive site is the Film Festivals Server . The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences  is probably the most well-known awards organisation. Yahoo's awards category has a link to BAFTA which turns out to be BAFTA Cymru  - the 'English' version is also worth visiting! 
References Internet Movie Database,
 Yahoo! Entertainment: Movies and Films,
 Underground Network (Bollywood Pictures),
 Journal of Film Preservation,
 Sony movie Web site,
 Ecran Noir Web site,
 Directory of Film, Video, Communication Schools and Programs,
 Bound Web site,
Author DetailsFrank Parry,