Film Festival Showcases Poignant Ethnic and Social Justice Movies Made by UCLA Alumni

Event marks 50th anniversary celebration of Institute of American Cultures and Ethnic Studies Centers

(Los Angeles, Calif.)  — In 2019, the UCLA Institute of American Cultures (IAC) and its four ethnic studies centers — American Indian Studies Center, Asian American Studies Center, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and Chicano Studies Research Center — will celebrate five decades of producing ground-breaking knowledge of the changing social and cultural realities in America.

The year-long celebration will open with a film festival on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, featuring thought-provoking and entertaining films made by UCLA alumni that tackle cultural and social justice issues from unique perspectives. Q&A sessions with the films’ writers, directors or producers will follow, and participants can enjoy ethnic food, entertainment, and a chance to mingle with filmmakers. The event is free and open to the campus and the public from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the UCLA James West Alumni Center, 325 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles.

“Film has been and continues to be a powerful medium in which to tell our own stories,” IAC Vice Provost David K. Yoo said. “We are justifiably proud of the many UCLA alumni associated with our centers whose films are featured in our festival.”

The film festival, which coincides with Black History Month, will showcase “Bless Their Little Hearts,” the dramatic story of a family in Watts. The film, selected for the National Film Registry, was directed by Billy Woodberry ’82.

The feature presentation is the award-winning film “Selena(1997), the true story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Texas-born Tejano singer who rose from cult status to create top albums on the Latin music charts.Directed by Gregory Nava ’71, MFA ’76, the film stars singer/actress Jennifer Lopez in her breakout role for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, as well as Edward James Olmos and Jon Seda. Guest speaker will be award-winning Producer Moctesuma Esparza ’71 and MFA ‘73, named one of the 50 most powerful and influential Latinos by The Imagen Foundation.

Other films to be screened include:
Asian American Studies Center
“Cruisin’ J-Town” (1974) This documentary by Duane Kubo follows the formation of the popular jazz fusion band, Hiroshima, in the late 70s. Includes a lively cross-cultural jam session between the band and the Chicano performing arts group, El Teatro Campesino.
Speaker: Director Duane Kubo

“My Name is Asiroh” (2013) A young girl named Asiroh is bullied in school about her unusual name and wants to change it.
Speaker: Writer/Director Asiroh Cham ’04, MFA ‘12

American Indian Studies Center
“On and Off the Rez with Charlie Hill” (1999) This inspiring and thought-provoking documentary by Sandra Osawa uses humor to challenge racism about Native people in America while profiling renowned American Indian comedian Charlie Hill’s life and rise in comedy. Stars Charlie Hill, Will Rogers, Steve Allen, Dick Gregory, Floyd Westerman and others.
Speaker: Director Sandra Osawa (Makah Tribe) MFA program 1970s

Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies
Bless Their Little Hearts”(1983) Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s including director Billy Woodberry, Charles Burnett (“Killer of Sheep), Haile Gerima (“Sankofa”) and Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”), this story chronicles the devastating toll that joblessness takes on a married couple and their children.
Speakers: Dominic Taylor and Ellen C. Scott, faculty in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

Chicano Studies Research Center
“Requiem-29” (1971) Riveting footage of the August 29, 1970, National Chicano Moratorium civil rights and anti-war protest in Los Angeles which attracted 50,000 Chicanos and led to a riot, inhumane treatment by police, and the death of Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar.
Speaker: Producer Moctesuma Esparza ’71, MFA ’73 Esparza is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, entrepreneur and activist renowned for his contributions to the movie industry and commitment to Latinos. He is regarded as one of the most influential Latinos in the U.S. for the past three decades.

“Chicana” (1979) Considered the first major feminist Chicana documentary, depicting the contributions of women as workers, mothers, activists, educators, leaders, and other roles, despite their generally oppressed status in Latino culture.
Speaker: Director/Writer/Producer Sylvia Morales ’72, MFA ‘79

The UCLA Institute of American Cultures (IAC) is the coordinating body to four ethnic studies research centers- American Indian Studies Center, Asian American Studies Center, Bunche Center for African American Studies, and Chicano Studies Research Center. Together, the IAC and centers produce knowledge of emerging social and cultural realities in America through innovative research, events, fellowships, scholarship, grants, and civic engagement, strengthening ethnic communities through decades of advancing research for social justice. The centers are the only ethnic studies organized research units among the 10 University of California campuses. In 2019, the IAC and the centers will mark their historic 50th anniversary during UCLA's centennial year.

Ticket registration. For more information, please visit https://www.iac.ucla.edu/ or contact Sophia Fischer, sfischer@conet.ucla.edu, (310) 825-6515.

###