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Call for Submissions

Philosophical Films welcomes submissions from philosophy professors and graduate students around the internet who teach in the discipline. We seek two kinds of contributions: (1) discussion questions for new films, and (2) features, such as essays, book outlines, and filmmaker interviews. Please e-mail the editor with requests. When contacting the editor, please indicate (a) your educational credentials and/or university affiliation, (b) the provisional title of the submission, and (c) a tentative date of completion. Submitted articles are subject to four possible decisions: (1) acceptance in its current form with no revisions; (2) acceptance contingent on some revisions; (3) rejection with an invitation to revise and resubmit; (4) rejection with no invitation to resubmit.

AUTHOR COPYRIGHT AND LICENSING AGREEMENT. The author of a submission enters into an agreement with Philosophical Films such that (1) The author grants exclusive and perpetual license to Philosophical Films to use and distribute the submission through internet media as well as other possible media such as printed or CD ROM formats; this license covers the present version/edition of Philosophical Films, all future versions/editions of Philosophical Films, and all derivations of Philosophical Films. (2) The author receives no financial payment for his/her submission from Philosophical Films. (3) The author retains copyright to his/her submission; the author also retains the right to publish the submission in a format that does not compete with Philosophical Films in nature and scope. (4) Philosophical Films reserves the right to discontinue using a submission including but not limited to situations in which the author is no longer able to update or revise the submission as needed.

FORMAT FOR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS. Submitted film “Discussion Questions” should follow the format and style of those already posted (a format template is available for authors to use). Submissions should only be for films available on DVD and Video, and not new releases or older films available only in 16mm format. Authors should be familiar with background on the film by reading reviews (such as those posted on, watching the DVD special features (such as deleted scenes, director’s commentary, and “making of” documentaries), and accessing the director’s personal website. If the film is based on a famous book, such as Kafka’s The Trial some familiarity with the book and literary criticism of it may help. Authors may also benefit from accessing online screenplays of the film (such as those posted on, which includes both early and final drafts of many films). Start to finish, the preparation, screening and writing process will likely take between five and ten hours. The submission subheadings should be as follows:

  • Philosophical Issues: List the main philosophical issues explored in the film, such as appearance/reality, ethical relativism, faith/reason. Limit the list to three items.
  • Characters: List the main characters in the film, with a brief parenthetical description of the character’s role in the film. If the actor is famous, put his/her name in parentheses as well. For example: Craig (John Cusack, puppeteer), Lottie (Cameron Diaz, Craig’s wife).
  • Other films by Director Alan Smithee: present only the most famous films by the director, with a maximum of eight.
  • Synopsis: Present a summary of the film’s plot, including the film’s conclusion. Also include any important facts about the film, such as whether it was based on a novel, whether it won or was nominated for Academy Awards. Some quotations by the filmmakers may be appropriate.
  • Discussion Questions: present 10-30 discussion questions on the film, focusing mainly on philosophical issues (rather than set design, camera work). Questions should be composed during the screening, rather than from memory afterwards. It is important to include direct and accurate quotations from the film. This is easy if the screenplay is available online, but tedious when transcribing from the video. Refer to the characters’ names, not the actors’ names. Although the questions may be used by teachers for writing assignments, the questions should be worded for purposes of class discussion (thus avoiding common instructions like “argue pro and con”). When appropriate, mention and quote from the views of traditional philosophers. Please ask only one question per discussion question item – rather than including a string of interrogatives.

FORMAT FOR FEATURES. Feature submissions, such as essays, may be written in a formal or informal style, depending on the author’s preference. Please contact the general editor with questions.

SIMPLE STYLE. Submissions should be written in a style that is accessible to intelligent but general readers. Although Philosophical Films is often visited by professional philosophers, many users of Philosophical Films are philosophy students or philosophically curious web surfers. To best serve these users, authors should minimize unnecessary technical vocabulary. Spelling and punctuation should follow US English conventions (rather than UK English conventions, for example). Please avoid footnotes and endnotes, and minimize the use of in-text references. Bibliographies in submitted essays should be brief and follow MLA format. The heading title for the bibliography should be "References and Further Reading."

HYPERLINKS TO INCLUDE / AVOID. When appropriate, include hyperlinks in your submission to other Philosophical Films items. However, do not include any hyperlinks to non-Philosophical Films web sites. Philosophical Films aims at being a self-contained resource, rather than a link list. Also, as external links require continual updating, we hope to avoid this time consuming task.

LENGTH. There are no space restrictions, and authors are encouraged to err on the side of being too long rather than too short. Discussion question submissions should typically be around 1,000 words in length. Essay submissions should typically be between 4,000 and 8,000 words. This is 8 to 16 pages typed, double-space.

SENDING SUBMISSIONS. Please send all submissions in MS Word format, as e-mail attachments. The editors will then reformat the submissions to fit the standard Philosophical Film graphic design and layout. Authors should use only minimal formatting in the original word processing files, and, unless necessary, avoid tables and columns.

EDITING. As with printed publications, after the item is submitted, the editors may make minor stylistic changes that will not affect the submission's content.

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