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In 1969, UCLA student filmmakers Norman Yonemoto and Nikolai Ursin traveled to Berkeley and documented the now-historic protests to save People’s Park — an event also remembered for the brutal response by police and intervention of the National Guard.

Their unique, eyewitness account, titled Second Campaign (1970), is now held at the UCLA Film & Television Archive(opens in a new tab) along with an estimated 1,500 UCLA student films. It is one of three archived student films that were recently restored by student interns, under the supervision of Archive staff. This restoration is part of a pilot program called Present Preserving the Past, to train future archivists in film curation, research, inspection, preparation and digital restoration, made possible by a grant from the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation.

“As a UCLA student working on a UCLA student film, I felt an immediate connection to the project, which motivated me even more to make careful restoration decisions to honor the filmmakers,” said Christina Scholze, a student in the Master of Library & Information Science (M.L.I.S) Media Archival Studies program, who worked on the Second Campaign restoration. “It was a very intimate experience to spend so much time with one film throughout its physical preservation and digital restoration process.”

Fellow M.L.I.S students Lily Lubin and Gabrielle Norte worked with the Archive to restore In Transit: The Chinese in California (1977) and Rich (1983), respectively. Blending animation, live-action and still photography, Lilian Wu’s In Transit traces the history of Chinese Americans on the West Coast from the 19th to mid-20th century. As the filmmaker and star of Rich, S. Torriano Berry tells the story of an African American high school student who pushes back against the forces of his inner-city Los Angeles environment.

Present Preserving the Past culminated on December 1, 2023 with a screening of the films at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum and a conversation with the filmmakers and student interns. The films will be made available on the Archive’s YouTube channel, with more student films planned for online access. Together, these works represent a vibrant and storied filmmaking tradition at UCLA and offer a window into the artistic, social, political and cultural movements of their time.

The project will prepare a new generation of film archivists, providing them with important experience stewarding a preservation and access project from conception to execution. The student interns will also contribute to the documentation of UCLA’s history, as the films they make available for further study reflect the shifts in campus politics and the changing interests of student populations, seen through the lens of filmmakers at the start of their careers.