Film Makers, Zhang Yang and Ann Hui

Instructions and Grading Rubric for the Take-Home Midterm Examination
Prompts: available on lecture website after class on Thursday of Week 7. Prompts will
ask you to compare two of the three films by the same filmmaker that we have watched in
Formatting and Length: 2 short essays (2-3 pages each, double-spaced, in Times New
Roman font) submitted as 1 Word document (not as PDF or Google doc), with each essay
starting from the top of a page, and with the essay subject (Topic & Filmmaker) identified at the
Submission: Section website via Turnitin
Due date: Sunday night before Week 9 by 10 p.m.
More info: One essay should be about Ann Hui, and one should be about Zhang Yang.
One essay must address the “Production” prompt, while the other must address the “Content”
prompt. Essentially, choose either the model of Student A or Student B in the table below:
PRODUCTION Student A Student B
CONTENT Student B Student A
➢ After reading the questions under the “Production” and “Content” prompts, determine
which topic you want to devote to Ann Hui, and which you prefer to devote to Zhang
Yang. Make you indicate this at the beginning of the essay (e.g. “Production: Ann Hui”
and “Content: Zhang Yang.”
➢ In composing your responses, prioritize the first question (or instruction) in the prompt
(essentially, the topic sentence or question asking you to make a specific comparison).
How you respond to the initial prompt in the question will be assessed the most closely.
➢ The subsequent questions under the topic comparison in each prompt are intended to help
you think more specifically about the larger theme. Given the space restrictions of the
essay (only 2-3 pages), it is wise that you only choose one of these questions from the
subset to respond to. Choose the one that you would most like to address, or that you feel
gives you the best (and most specific or unique) ideas about what to write.
➢ This is an open-book exam, which means you are welcome to look at the narratives and
cite passages or quotes from them in your response. When quoting, please follow the
standard citation format by listing the author’s last name and the page number. Feel free
to cite lecture notes. Secondary sources are not necessary, but if you use them they must
be clearly and properly cited: plagiarism will not be tolerated.
Midterm Scoring Criteria for Each Essay
Each essay will be graded according to a maximum score of 50, bringing the total possible
points for the midterm to 100, from the following criteria:

47-50 (outstanding, superior, exceptional):
o Responds directly to initial prompt and one question from the subset in an astute,
insightful, articulate, and thoughtful way, demonstrating rhetorical nuance. Analysis is
rich in relevant detail with exemplary rhetorical control and articulate fluency.
o Response makes a keen, insightful, logical, and direct comparison between the two
chosen films, exhibiting exceptional skills of critical thinking.
o Treatment of two films is evenly balanced and analyzes specific, relevant scene that
reflect thoughtful engagement and close analysis.
o Language and prose are engaging, vivid, and compelling. The essay demonstrates a
sophisticated command of language, grammar, and vocabulary (it is free of careless
mistakes), exhibiting noticeable variety (language is generally free of redundancies).
❖ 45-46: excellent, but does not quite attain the standards of one or two of the above
42-44 (commendable, proficient, satisfactory):
o Response to initial prompt is thoughtful, clear, and sufficiently specific. Analysis shows
noticeable detail and satisfactory rhetorical control.
o Response makes a logical and direct comparison between the two films, exhibiting
proficient skills of critical thinking.
o Treatment of two texts shows relative balance, and the specific scenes drawn from each
film are sufficient and relevant to the selected prompt.
o Writing is free of major grammatical errors, with a good command of language and
vocabulary, and demonstrates sufficient variety (generally free of redundancies).
❖ 40-41: commendable, but does not sufficiently fulfill the standards of one or two of the
above categories.
36-39 (passable, adequate, acceptable):
o Response to initial prompt is evident, but possibly inadequate due to faulty logic,
insufficient nuance, or overgeneralization (lack of specificity). Analysis contains a
minimally acceptable level of detail and rhetorical control,
o Comparison between films is logical, but too general and apparent (in some ways just
reiterating, but not really responding to, the prompt), displaying a modicum of critical
o Treatment of two films is imbalanced, containing insufficient or irrelevant supporting
o Writing conveys central meaning adequately, but language is redundant (lacks variety) or
vague, and there are enough careless errors in grammar or vocabulary to mildly inhibit
❖ 35: paper is passable, but fails to meet one or two of the minimum standards outlined
31-34 (ineffective, insufficient):
o Response to initial prompt is unclear or poorly conceived, failing to demonstrate
sufficient critical thinking.
o Comparison between films is illogical, irrelevant, or is a mere restatement of prompt.


o Treatment of two films is heavily imbalanced and/or largely unsubstantiated by
supporting evidence.
o Writing is ineffective or overly redundant, demonstrating insufficient variety. Language
errors abound, hindering readability.
❖ 30: paper was late, further compounding issues outlined above.
29 and below (unacceptable or submitted too late):
o Response to initial prompt is entirely absent or completely unacceptable.
o Demonstrates no obvious comparison between the two films.
o Treatment of two films is incoherent and entirely irrelevant.
o Writing is confusing and misunderstands the objective of the assignment. Language
errors abound.
o Essay was never turned in or was turned in too late, resulting in docked points.


Take-Home Midterm Examination

For this exam, you are required to submit two (2) short essays of approximately two-three (2-3)
pages in length each (roughly 4-5 paragraphs each). The two short essays should be submitted
together in a single Word file. They should be double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman
font. At the top of each essay, please indicate the essay subject (Topic & Filmmaker). In the top
left-hand corner of the first page, please write your name (first and last), followed by the class,
and finally the assignment (Take-home Midterm). Midterms must be submitted to your section’s
Blackboard Assignments page via Turnitin by Sunday, October 20 at 10:00 p.m.
• For one of the two essays, choose two course films by either Ann Hui (Boat People, A
Simple Life, The Golden Era) or Zhang Yang (Shower, Sunflower, Paths of the Soul)
through which to assess the evolution of the filmmaker’s defining production style and
technique: what techniques and characteristics make for an “Ann Hui film” or a “Zhang
Yang film” as its own kind of genre? How are these techniques adapted to
accommodate the different subject matter of the filmmaker’s narratives? In responding
to this prompt, you might narrow your response by addressing one aspect of the
following questions:
▪ How has the filmmaker creatively used or mixed certain production
patterns—genre conventions, cinematography (types of shots, lighting,
landscape, staging, or setting), soundtrack (including dialogue)—to develop
his or her own “signature” style, flavor, tone, or cinematic language?
▪ How has the filmmaker developed a signature style through specific

production, financing, or distribution models like casting or cross-border co-
production and collaboration?

• Cite at least one specific scene in detail from each of the two films.
• For one of the two essays, choose two course films by either Ann Hui or Zhang Yang
(not the same director that you choose for the Production prompt above) through which
to assess the evolutions in the filmmaker’s predominant thematic interests, worldview,
narrative priorities, or humanistic concerns: what social, political, or cultural subjects is
the director interested in and how have those subjects expanded to accommodate new
source material and types of stories over his or her career? In responding to this
prompt, you might narrow your response by addressing one aspect of the following
▪ Where does the filmmaker derive his or her source material from?
▪ How does the filmmaker’s stories engage with and comment on (directly or
indirectly) the social, political, or cultural contexts into which his or her
films were released?

• Cite at least one specific scene in detail from each of the two films.