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A Diverse Lens

By Cameron Vernali '20

Published Jan 22, 2019 11:50 AM

More inclusive films are a recent trend in the film industry, but Bruins have been ahead of that curve for a long time.


Image from On and Off the Rez with Charlie Hill, a documentary by Sandra Osawa.

Films released in 2018 were diverse, as evidenced by the fact that four of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture Oscars featured a leading actor who was a person of color. But this is nothing new for UCLA alumni, who have been advocating for creating social and cultural discussions through film for decades.

For a year, beginning on February 1, 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 — are celebrating five decades of changing the cultural and social realities in the U.S through understanding. The first event, on February 1, will be a daylong film festival focused on socially relevant films made by Bruins.

“Film has been and continues to be a powerful medium in which to tell our own stories,” says ICA’s vice provost, David Yoo. “We are justifiably proud of the many UCLA alumni associated with our centers whose films are featured in our festival.”

The film festival, which is free and open to the public, will run from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at UCLA’s James West Alumni Center. In addition to screenings, the festival will include Q&A sessions with the films’ creators, ethnic food to enjoy and an opportunity to network with filmmakers.

Certain films will be showcased, such as Bless Their Little Hearts, the story of a family in the Watts region of Los Angeles and directed by Billy Woodberry, ‘82. Selena, based on Latin singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, was directed by Gregory Nava, ‘71 and ‘76.

Other films in the program include Cruisin’ J-Town, a documentary directed by Duane Kubo, ‘75, on the jazz fusion band, Hiroshima; On and Off the Rez with Charlie Hill, a documentary by former UCLA student Sandra Osawa on American Indian comedian Charlie Hill; and Chicana, one of the first feminist Chicana documentaries, directed, written and produced by Sylvia Morales, ‘72 and ‘79.

To read more on this story, please visit ucla.in/2shkkkR .