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How to Cite a Movie in APA Format

It doesn’t take long to learn how to cite a movie in APA format. In fact, the APA format 7th edition (the most recent as of this publication date) requires only the movie’s director, year of release, title, and production company, in that order. 

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If you want to know precisely how to cite movies in APA format for both primary and secondary sources, follow this formula when listing sources in your bibliography or on your reference page:

Last name of director, First name initial. (Director). (Year of release). Movie title in italics [Film]. Production company. 

You can apply this formula to any movie. Let’s look at a real example so you can visualize how to cite a film in APA format. 

Blomkamp, N. (Director). (2009). District 9 [Film]. QED International, TriStar Pictures, and WingNut Films.

For in-text citations of a movie in APA format, list the director’s last name and the year of release in parentheses. 

(Last name of director, year of release)

(Blomkamp, 2009)

However, if you’re using a direct quote from the movie or referencing a particular scene, you must also include the time stamp of the starting point in an hour:minute:second format. 

(Last name of director, year of release, hour:minute:second)

(Blomkamp, 2009, 1:25:45)

This covers the basics for citing a movie in APA format, which comes in handy when writing an essay. Below we explain some unique variations for citing movies in APA format. 

Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s Citation Generator ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for tricky APA citations like biographies, anthologies, movie trailers and cartoons.

Rules for how to cite a film in APA format

It’s not difficult to cite movies in APA format, but there are a few unique guidelines to keep in mind. 

  • Use sentence case for titles. Normally, we write movie names in title case, capitalizing the first letter of the significant words, but APA format uses sentence case for movie titles, so you only capitalize the first letter of the first word (and the first letter of any proper nouns). 
  • If you’re using an alternate version, mention it. This includes versions like director’s cuts or special DVD releases. Where you write “[Film],” add a semicolon and the version you’re using, e.g., “[Film; extended ed. DVD release].”
  • For non-English films, use the original title on the reference page in italics, and put the translated title in brackets after it without italics, e.g., “Gisaengchung [Parasite] [Film].”
  • If you watched the movie on a streaming site, you do not need to include the URL. The URL is only needed for videos that are not official films, such as YouTube videos

How to cite a documentary in APA format

As documentaries are nonfiction, they’re excellent resources for writing a research paper. If you want to know how to cite documentaries in APA format on your reference page, simply follow the same formula as above. 

Lears, R. (Director). (2019). Knock down the house [Film; online video]. Artemis Rising, Atlas Films, and Jubilee Films. 

In-text citations for documentaries in APA format follow the same formula of using the director’s last name and the year of release. 

(Lears, 2019)

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