Monday, May 20

Faced with cutbacks, Melnitz plots course for its uncertain future


Thursday, June 6, 1996

Film program seeks campus support in light of changesBy Dina
Gachman

Daily Bruin Staff

Melnitz Movies is in danger of disappearing from the UCLA
campus.

Earlier this spring, the Graduate Students Association announced
that they were cutting part of their budget, which finances Melnitz
Movies.

Minimal funding is still available to Melnitz Movies, but this
sum is not enough to run a year-long schedule, and despite efforts
by both the Melnitz Staff and GSA to locate alternate means of
funding the many programs and sneak previews that Melnitz provides,
no solution has been found.

For Melnitz’s Director of Programming and UCLA graduate student
N’Dine Rowe, talk of budget cuts to Melnitz is an emotional
issue.

"I was deeply saddened," says Rowe. "When I was finally feeling
comfortable in the position and I finally had a sense of what was
going on, to suddenly hear that we were in jeopardy of losing the
whole program was almost a sense of defeat."

Rowe, recently re-appointed as next year’s Director of
Programming, worked to organize a variety of festivals and
screenings this year, including the Pan Afrikan Film Festival and
previews of movies like "Get Shorty," "Things To Do In Denver When
You’re Dead" and "The Pallbearer."

Rowe’s predecessor, Jim Friedman, now manager of the Archive
Research and Study Center, shares Rowe’s frustration. Friedman
believes that the cuts threaten a powerful form of cultural
expression for the campus.

"Like everything else that’s lost," Friedman explains, "it’s a
hole, and empty space. It’s not a very appealing possibility. It’s
a creative loss. Film is the medium of our age, and the ability to
utilize film ­ to bring together diverse kinds of people
­ is unique."

Friedman, who ran Melnitz Movies from 1994 to 1995, says that
financial cuts have been a possibility for the past four years.
Because of UCLA’s seismic renovations and other additions to the
university, ASUCLA (which funds GSA) makes less money. When
Friedman was in charge, his budget was cut in half, forcing him to
find creative new modes of financing the program. Now the
difficulties fall on Rowe’s shoulders.

Rowe says that she has witnessed a tremendous amount of support
from all over the campus, and although this support is encouraging,
it cannot provide the funds necessary to sustain next year’s
prospective schedule.

Rowe also feels that the loss of film festivals and events will
be detrimental to the UCLA community.

"Cultural programming is something that I’m personally proud
of," says Rowe. "I think that will be something that’s missed. We
really helped bring some cultural diversity to this campus, and
that would be one of the biggest disappointments if we were unable
to continue."

The process of determining alternate means of paying for
Melnitz’s upcoming year has already begun for Rowe. One road she
promises not to take is to start charging admission to the films.
Rowe believes that programs catered towards students should be
free, and she promises to uphold this rule. The solutions she has
come up with are to work more closely with the Department of Film
and Television, and to reduce the number of screenings to one per
week.

If the screenings are cut down, UCLA’s film programming will
fall below some tough competition.

"There are schools like USC," says Rowe, "and they are
competition on so many different levels. They have a program that
is similar to ours, so we’d be missing out. USC will be having the
big sneak previews and UCLA won’t."

Friedman agrees. But he says that if the university values
Melnitz Movies, the program will continue.

"If the students, the staff and the faculty don’t care," says
Friedman, "then there shouldn’t be a program. But I think they do.
And if they do care, I think they owe it to themselves to
help."

Because of the reactions around campus, and GSA’s current
attempts to retain the budget, Rowe says that she can remain
positive about the future of Melnitz Movies.

"We have a lot of things to be truly proud of," she says. "I
definitely hope to have a chance to continue next year. I’m very
hopeful."

"Cultural programming is something that I’m personally proud
of."

N’Dene Rowe Melintz Movies Director

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