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UCLA chapter of AMIA celebrates moving image through the art of preservation

AMIA co-chair and graduate student Gabz Norte works with film preservation materials. The UCLA student chapter of the association strives to build a community of rising professionals who value all formats of the moving image, she said. (Photo courtesy of Gabz Norte. Photo illustration by Ashley Ko/Illustrations Director)

By Sanjana Chadive

Aug. 19, 2023 7:53 p.m.

The Association of Moving Image Archivists is projecting the art of video archival for the greater student body.

While not an archive itself, the UCLA chapter of AMIA is dedicated to the preservation of and education about the moving image, said AMIA co-chair and graduate student in the library and information science program Gabz Norte. Open to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, the organization also serves as a space for individuals to grow professionally and make valuable contributions to moving image preservation, she said.

“It’s (AMIA is) really just a celebration of the moving image in every format, whether that be film or video,” Norte said. “On the student level, (we’re) trying to build a community, as we are rising professionals.”

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Throughout the academic year, AMIA engages in different events spotlighting moving image preservation, said general member and graduate student in the library and information science program Diana Cardenas. For example, Cardenas said the organization digitizes home videos brought in by the Los Angeles community as part of their volunteering efforts for Home Movie Day, a showcase highlighting novice filmmaking. In addition, she said AMIA members use a lab to host workshops on the usage of various preservation materials, such as vinyl records.

General member and graduate student in the library and information science program Rhana Tabrizi said AMIA also organizes tours of different archives in Los Angeles. Some of last year’s sites, Tabrizi said, include the Walt Disney Archives and the Academy Film Archive. After touring the latter, she said she and the chapter were invited to a free screening of Damien Chazelle’s most recent film, “Babylon.” Cardenas added she and fellow chapter members have taken advantage of their location to work closely with several community archives as well.

The ever-evolving intersection of video preservation and technological innovation may interest potential new members of AMIA, Norte said. Reflecting on today’s advancements, they said the rise of digital video has made archiving more accessible, allowing those who have little to no experience to learn it. The inverse relationship between the increasing popularity of streaming services and decline in DVDs and VHS players is also a conversation that may interest students, Cardenas said.

In terms of networking opportunities, Cardenas said members have the opportunity to attend conferences led by working professionals in the film and moving image preservation industries. Norte, who is also a filmmaker, said she has found these connections and resources valuable, as she usually resolves lapses in communication between film producers and archivists.

“There’s definitely a separation between the production side and archiving side,” Norte said. “AMIA does really great work in closing that gap and having conversations between professionals.”

[Related: Film & Television Archive to screen alumni’s documentary on incarcerated women]

Since the chapter is currently composed of mostly students in the library and information science program, AMIA is hoping to expand its membership to include more students from other lines of study this upcoming school year, Tabrizi said. To achieve this goal, Norte said they will focus heavily on how the organization promotes itself.

Some of these steps, she said, include updating the website and Instagram page, attending more orientation sessions and planning new events. Norte said the chapter will also emphasize the variety of careers AMIA members pursue, including film preservation, restoration and scholarship. Anyone is welcome to join AMIA, so long as they have an interest in moving image preservation or related fields, Cardenas added.

“We’re all just very connected by our love of the moving image,” Cardenas said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is just for the library and information science students. Anyone interested in moving images and archiving, they’re very welcome to check out any AMIA things.”

As most AMIA members are master’s candidates, Tabrizi said incoming freshmen may find value in befriending older students. Through forming these relationships, incoming students can realize what they want to pursue in the future, she said. Prospective members may also want to learn how digital innovation has impacted archiving tools, Norte said. In doing so, Cardenas said they may be encouraged to dive into their family histories and begin archiving their own home videos. Ultimately, Norte said students who wish to be seen and heard will find a community at AMIA, irrespective of their interests and background.

“Everyone has a story,” Norte said. “If you have a story, which everyone does, then you have a place in the moving image archiving because that’s what we’re doing. We’re preserving stories.”

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Sanjana Chadive | Lifestyle editor
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
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