Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Africana Studies

First Advisor

John L. Jackson

Abstract

This project reconsiders the trailblazing group of black directors, known as the “L.A. Rebellion” filmmakers, in relation to the insurgent Asian American, Chicana/o and Native American filmmakers they trained alongside as part of the Ethno-Communications Program (1969-1973), a short lived yet extremely generative affirmative action program at UCLA’s film school. Elyseo Taylor, the sole African American faculty member at the film school in the late sixties, designed the program with the assistance of a group of Asian American, Chicana/o, American Indian and African American student activists who demanded that the university recruit more students of color, hire more faculty of color, and create new film department curriculum relevant to their intellectual, creative, and political concerns. From extensive archival research and interviews with nearly 50 filmmakers and film educators associated with the Ethno program, I unpack the administrative battle for Ethno-Communications, one if told by the records housed in UCLA’s Special Collections alone would signal the death of the program within a mere year or two of its launch. The stories told by the Ethno filmmakers--who trained together, made films together, and worked in solidarity for each other’s struggles--tell an entirely different tale, one that lives in the narrative features, documentaries, and short experimental films they produced; in the programming consortia and longstanding media arts organizations they fought for; and in the bountiful and teachable visual archive of people of color in Los Angeles (and beyond) that they created and continue to create. By moving away from a silo approach to analyzing the work of the Ethno filmmakers one racial group at a time, I argue that cross racial, intertextual analysis of their student and early professional work, empowers our eyes (borrowing from Toni Cade Bambara) to see the signs of Third World solidarity in much of that work. Considered relationally, this wider filmography offers a refreshing and rebellious counter archive to the one-note at best, devastatingly harmful at worse, portraits of race relations in Los Angeles that continue to dominate mainstream media.

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