University of California, Los Angeles: Eight films with UCLA ties among 25 named to the National Film Registry

UCLA demonstrated its enormous contributions to film history today; whether made by students, faculty or alumni, or preserved and restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, eight of the 25 films announced as 2021 inductees into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress have ties to campus.

Three UCLA student-made films, two films made by alumni, one faculty film, and two additional titles preserved by the Archive were chosen for the annual list because of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage. Among the UCLA titles are the only student-made films inducted into the registry this year.

“We are delighted to see six Bruins recognized in this year’s selections for the National Film Registry,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “Their work is a testament to UCLA’s broad impact on cinema culture, from educating generations of inspiring filmmakers to preserving, exhibiting and studying moving images of note. We applaud these Bruins for their groundbreaking works that exemplify the diversity and artistry of American film.”

Several of the films on the list made by people with UCLA connections examine cultural and social justice issues, while others spotlight Tejano singer Selena and the late comedian Richard Pryor. Also making the list is the short film “Evergreen” (1964), preserved by the Archive and made by the late Ray Manzarek, best known as a member of The Doors, from when he was a student at UCLA.

Two additional films, restored by the Film & Television Archive, a division of UCLA Library, were also included: “The Murder of Fred Hampton” (1971) by Howard Alk and “The Watermelon Woman” (1996) by Cheryl Dunye.

“From creation to conservation, UCLA is a driving force in the stories that shape our lives,” said May Hong HaDuong, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive and member of the National Film Preservation Board. “Today’s announcement is an affirmation that to celebrate films and filmmakers is to value the work of archives. The UCLA Film & Television Archive is pleased that this year’s selections bring the importance of preservation and stories at the margins into the spotlight.”

Every year since its founding in 1988, the National Film Preservation Board — a distinguished group of film experts — convenes to recommend titles significant to the nation’s cultural heritage to the Librarian of Congress for inclusion in the film registry. The group also apprises the librarian of changing trends and policies in the field of film preservation, and counsels the librarian on the implementation of the National Film Preservation Plan.

“This year’s film selections speak to UCLA’s role in educating generations of filmmakers who represent a remarkably diverse cross section of American cinema,” said Chon Noriega, distinguished professor of film, television and digital media, and former director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. “Films with ties to UCLA offered new ways of telling stories and documenting history during a period of profound social and demographic change.”

2021 UCLA-affiliated National Film Registry titles

“Chicana” (1979, Sylvia Morales). This 22-minute film is a collage of artworks, still photographs and documentary footage about the struggles of Chicana women over the long course of history and the work they have put in to gain basic rights and wages. “Chicana,” which Morales made while a UCLA student, is considered to be the first major feminist Chicana documentary. The Sylvia Morales Collection is held in the Chicano Studies Research Center collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The collection, born from a collaboration between the Archive and the CSRC, is part of an enduring commitment to collect, preserve, and provide access to moving images by and about the Chicano and Latino communities.
“Evergreen” (1964, Ray Manzarek). This is a film about a jazz musician who is romantically tied to a young art student (Manzarek’s future wife, Dorothy Fujikawa), but can’t seem to make a long-term commitment. Preserved at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with elements from David Dutkowski of the Manzarek archive/Estate, a digital copy of the preserved film has been posted on the Archive’s YouTube channel.
“The Murder of Fred Hampton” (1971, Howard Alk). The UCLA Film & Television Archive restored “The Murder of Fred Hampton” in 2017 in partnership with the Chicago Film Archives. The film is one of three on this year’s list to directly address racially motivated violence against people of color. During the film’s production in 1969, Fred Hampton, leader of the Illinois Black Panther party, was fatally shot in a pre-dawn raid at his apartment by the Chicago Police Department who were working with the FBI.
“Requiem-29” (1970, David Garcia). A chilling document of a police riot and the death of Los Angeles Times reporter Rubén Salazar at the Chicano National Moratorium in Los Angeles, on Aug. 29, 1970. This 16mm print is held in the Chicano Studies Research Center collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The film was also produced by alumnus Moctesuma Esparza.
“Richard Pryor, Live in Concert” (1979, Jeff Margolis). Margolis, who attended UCLA, is a director and producer known for producing television specials and live events, including the Academy Awards. This stand-up comedy film is often considered the greatest of all recorded-performance films, with Pryor discussing a wide range of topics, including race, the police and himself.
“Selena” (1997, Gregory Nava). “Selena” tells the story of Tejana star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s rise to fame in her family band and her tragic death, at age 23, when she was shot to death by the head of her fan club after a dispute. Nava is a writer, director and producer who has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. Nava’s Oscar-nominated film “El Norte” (1983) was his first film named to the National Film Registry. Esparza also served as a producer on “Selena.”
“The Watermelon Woman” (1996, Cheryl Dunye). This film was restored and digitally remastered by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with support and funding from 13th Gen, Outfest Legacy Project, Toronto International Film Festival and First Run Features. Considered a landmark in New Queer Cinema, “The Watermelon Woman” is the first feature directed by a Black lesbian. It follows a video store clerk-cum-documentarian and her obsessive quest to unearth the forgotten contributions of African American women throughout cinematic history. Dunye’s film is being presented as part of the Pioneers of Queer Cinema program on Jan. 23.
“Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (1987, Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña). An Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, Tajima-Peña is director of the Center for EthnoCommunications and holder of the Alumni and Friends of Japanese American Ancestry Endowed Chair at UCLA. In “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” Tajima-Peña, who is also a professor of Asian American studies, examines the racially motivated murder of Chin, a Chinese American engineer, and recounts how the murderer escaped justice in the court system.
Selections to the National Film Registry this year bring the number of films on the list to 825. Additional titles with UCLA ties previously inducted into the registry include Denis Sanders’ “A Time Out Of War” (1954), Stanton Kaye’s “Brandy in the Wilderness” (1969), Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” (1972), “The Godfather Part II” (1974), “The Conversation” (1974), and “Apocalypse Now” (1979), Thom Andersen’s “Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer” (1975), Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” (1978), Carroll Ballard’s “The Black Stallion” (1979), Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization” (1981), Gregory Nava’s “El Norte” (1983), Rob Reiner’s “This is Spinal Tap” (1984) and “The Princess Bride” (1987), Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” (1991), and Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential” (1997).

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