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Research Guides

CIN370: Canadian Cinemas: Experimental Film

Tips for Building your Search

Choosing your Search Terms / Keywords

When searching for secondary source - Enter search terms on separate lines (e.g., enter title of film on the top line, director's last name below, so as to articulate your search request.

Keep in mind that terminology for your keywords can differ based on the discipline, time period, or location you are researching (e.g., "Motion Pictures", Video, Streaming media).

Quotations marks (search for specific phrases or names)

  • "Experimental film", "The Hart of London""Movie Theatre", "Norman McLaren

  • Careful of spelling!!  Scroll down to Tips on using OR for Theatre VS Theater

Asterisk / Wildcard * (search for root word with different endings)

  • Canad* =  Canada, Canada's, Canadian, Canadian's, Canadians, Canadiana


Combine your Search Terms

Pair up search terms using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to instruct databases to pull different combinations to narrow or widen the search results: 

  • AND (narrows your search)

    • "Experimental films" AND Canad* AND animat*

    • "Joyce Wieland" AND "Jack Chambers"

    • "Film Festivals" AND distribution AND Canad* 

  • OR (widens your search)

    • Toronto AND Experimental AND (film OR "motion pictures" OR movies OR video OR cinem*) 

    • "Experimental films" OR "underground films" OR "avant-garde" OR avantgarde 

    • "Movie Theatre" OR "Movie Theater" 

    • Experimental AND  ("film festival" OR "film festivals"


Search Tips for Location-Specific Research

Use the Advance Search in UofT LibrarySearch or other Databases and instruction what field should be searched for your keyword. This search example is set up so the database searches the location keywords only in  the Title OR Subject fields. This strategy excludes items that are published from the locations. 

Screenshot of UofT LIbrarySearch Advanced Search - click to view this search (external link) 

Screenshot of UofT LibrarySearch Advanced Screen, first line is ("experimental film" OR "underground film") AND  Title search  for  (Canad* OR Vancouver OR "British Columbia")  OR  Subject search for  (Canad* OR Vancouver OR "British Columbia")


Subject Headings in Library Catalogue

Search using Subject Headings

  1. Click on the UTL Catalogue link below to access Advanced Search
  2. Enter one of the phrases below exactly as it appears in the Search Box (or any of the other Subject Headings found below)
  3. Change the drop-down menu from Anywhere to "Subject"

UTL Catalogue Advanced Search 


Subject Headings

  • Motion Picture Theaters
    • Be aware that this subject heading is the American Spelling
    • Click "Search within" below the search bar on the results page and search "Toronto" or "Ontario"
    • Search subject heading "Motion picture theaters--Ontario--Toronto"
  • Motion Picture Industry
  • Motion Picture Audiences
  • Film Festivals
  • Distribution
  • Motion Pictures 
  • Motion Picture Producers And Directors

Search using Business Names

Search as above; use quotation marks to direct the database to search for particular words in a particular order and you may want to add Toronto, Ontario or Canada to the search if it is a popular theatre name.

Be careful of the spelling of the word "theatre". US newspapers or magazines may use theater as its spelling even if it is a business name. Run more than one search. 

  • "Kingsway Theatre"
  • "Revue Cinema" AND Toronto
  • "Reel Asian" "Film Festival" AND Toronto

Lists to get you started - Toronto Cinemas and Film Festivals

Remember Wikipedia can be a great source to find industry names, terminology and events, but focus on using it as launch-pad and use those search terms in UofT or web-based databases. Google Scholar can be useful, but the filters to narrow your search results are limited.