8 films with UCLA ties named to National Film Registry for 2022

When Harry Met Sally


“When Harry Met Sally,” directed by UCLA alumnus Rob Reiner, as well as three student-made movies, a film produced by a UCLA alumnus, and four others that were preserved and restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive are among the 25 films entering the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2022.

“Few academic institutions have made their mark on filmmaking as strongly as UCLA,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “It is a point of pride that so many of the films selected for the National Film Registry this year have UCLA ties, and we commend these Bruins for their artistry and excellence.”

The four films that were preserved by the Film & Television Archive, a division of UCLA Library, are “Behind Every Good Man” (1967), “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1950), “Scorpio Rising” (1963) and “Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives” (1977).

Also chosen for the registry was “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” (1982), which was produced by UCLA alumnus Moctesuma Esparza. Esparza earned a bachelor’s degree in 1971 and an MFA in 1973, both from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Reiner’s “When Harry Met Sally” premiered in 1989, decades after he attended UCLA, from 1964 to 1966. But three of the selected movies were made during the 1970s by filmmakers who were then pursuing master’s degrees at TFT:

“Behind Every Good Man” (1967), directed by Nikolai Ursin, who earned an MFA in 1971.

“Bush Mama” (1975), directed by Haile Gerima, who earned an MFA in 1976.

“Manzanar” (1972), directed by Bob Nakamura, who earned an MFA in 1975.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the rich, diverse stories told by talented UCLA filmmakers, and to the significance of extending their legacies through conservation and preservation,” said May Hong HaDuong, director of the Film & Television Archive. “The Archive is honored to have preserved four films from this impressive list.”

HaDuong also is a member of the National Film Preservation Board, which since its founding in 1988, has convened each year to recommend films to the Librarian of Congress for inclusion in the registry. Movies are selected titles for their significance to the nation’s cultural heritage.

About the selected films:

“The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” directed by Robert M. Young, stars Edward James Olmos as a Mexican American farmer who becomes a folk hero as he evades a manhunt by the Texas Rangers. Esparza, a producer of the movie, was born and raised in East Los Angeles and became an award-winning filmmaker, producer, businessman and promoter of Latino-created films.

“Behind Every Good Man” focuses on the aspirations of a Black transgender woman in Los Angeles. For its time, the movie was uniquely honest, offering insight into the experiences of transgender and queer people prior to the Stonewall Uprising in New York. It was preserved by the Archive with funds from the National Film Preservation Foundation on behalf of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project.

“Bush Mama” was presented by Gerima as his UCLA thesis film. The film follows a protagonist named Dorothy who, in living through poverty, unemployment and the abuse of power by institutions, becomes radicalized to take action for herself. Gerima is now an independent filmmaker and professor of film at Howard University.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” was directed by Michael Gordon and stars José Ferrer as the title character who helps another man win the affection of the woman he is in love with. Ferrer won an Academy Award for the role, marking the first win for a Hispanic actor. The movie was restored and preserved from the 35 mm nitrate original camera negative and acetate fine grain master by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with assistance from Paramount Pictures. The restoration was funded by UCLA alumna Myra Teitelbaum Reinhard.

“Manzanar” is a 16-minute documentary shot on Super 8 film capturing the experiences of Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II, with Nakamura looking back on his own childhood at the Manzanar concentration camp.

“Scorpio Rising” is a short film with no dialogue — only the sounds of a rock-and-roll soundtrack —  that explores themes such as masculinity and the idolization of rebel icons of the era. Directed by Kenneth Anger, the film was the subject of numerous protests upon its release due to its queer content and perceived obscenity. It was preserved from the original handpainted 16 mm Ektachrome color reversal A/B rolls and from the 16 mm original magnetic track by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding from The Film Foundation.

“When Harry Met Sally” humorously explores the complexities of male-female friendships and love, with title characters based on Reiner and the writer Nora Ephron. It is now recognized as a classic of the romantic comedy genre and is the only romantic comedy among the registry’s 2022 selections.

“Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives,” directed by the Mariposa Film Group (Peter Adair, Nancy Adair, Veronica Selver, Andrew Brown, Robert Epstein and Lucy Massie Phenix), features interviews with 26 queer men and women as they discuss their experiences as queer individuals in America. The pioneering documentary examines struggles with identity, love and homophobia. The film was preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funds from the David Bohnett Foundation, the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation and Outfest.

Among the numerous other films with UCLA ties that were previously chosen for the registry are Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather Part II” (1974), Jeff Margolis’ “Richard Pryor, Live in Concert” (1979), Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization” (1981), Gregory Nava’s “El Norte” (1983) and “Selena” (1997), Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” (1991) and Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential” (1997).

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