Through its Film Exhibition Program, the archive regularly shows films from independent, international and classical cinema. Most films air only once on the James Bridges Theater's big screen.
"The films we show aren't big-screen hits," says Andrea Alsberg, director of film exhibition for the archive. "They're not necessarily known in this country at all. . . . If you miss the film the night we show it, you may never get to see it again in your lifetime."
Established members of the Hollywood community praise the archive's Film Exhibition Program for bringing films to the public they otherwise would not be able to see.
"It was the movies that brought me to UCLA: old ones, new ones, movies from Hollywood and from around the world, movies that I could not see anywhere else," says Curtis Hanson, director of L.A. Confidential.
"Even while I'm traveling I keep track of the archive's calendar, encouraged that such incredible films are being made around the globe and screened for the public on a weekly basis at UCLA," adds famed film director Martin Scorsese.
The Film Exhibition Program began in 1967 with the development of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. In the mid-1970s, the exhibition program grew under the guidance of Geoffrey Gilmore, now director of the Sundance Film Festival.
"We realized to have an effective archive, we had to have both preservation and access," says Robert Rosen, dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television. "You constantly have to keep a balance between the two. If you just preserve films, it's dead storage that no one will see. If you focus solely on access, you're not thinking of the future."
The program has exhibited films representing the work of Indian, Iranian and Mexican filmmakers. "We try to serve anyone and everyone interested in film," Alsberg says. "We make an effort to serve the entire Los Angeles community, including people who normally wouldn't come to UCLA. We screen an array of international films to accomplish that goal."
The archive's summer programming includes From the Factory: Andy Warhol's Films, The Cinematography of James Wong Howe and Amos Gitai 2001, a sampling of the Israeli director's latest works. These programs are in addition to ongoing series like Kids' Flicks family screenings, Silents and Archive Treasures, which teams classic prints from the archive's vaults with cartoons, newsreels and shorts of the period.
"We screen an extraordinary diversity of films," Rosen says. "It's amazing we've been able to do this for so long, especially when you consider that we don't use a commercial film setting to support us. I credit the people we have. Each of them has a fanatical commitment to film that has been a tremendous help in accomplishing our mission."