Geisel Library Acquires Filmmaker’s Archives

University officials announced that Geisel Library acquired the archive of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Espinosa on Sept. 23. The Library will celebrate Espinosa’s works by hosting free, public screenings of his films in October and November.

Though multiple universities were interested in acquiring his archive — including Stanford, his alma mater — Espinosa told the UCSD Guardian that he felt it was important to donate it to a public university. 

“Public universities are the backbone of our public intellectual system,” Espinosa said. “As a filmmaker whose career has been dedicated to public broadcasting, the commitment of public universities to public inclusiveness and to open public discussion and education are key values for me.”

Espinosa is best known for his documentaries about issues associated with the U.S.-Mexico border. He created many of these films while he was a member of KPBS, San Diego’s public broadcasting station.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the archive contains about 200 boxes of scripts, letters, photos, interview transcripts and research materials from his 35 years of filmmaking. Espinosa’s archive joins those of other significant figures, such as medical researcher Jonas Salk and author Dr. Seuss.

Furthermore, Espinosa explained that UCSD’s proximity to the border, where much of his work takes place, made the university his first choice. 

“I felt it was important that my work remain closer to the border and to the region in which so much of it was created,” Espinosa said. “Being on the U.S.-Mexico border gives San Diego an international dynamic, and there has been so much potential to work on untold stories.”

Mandeville Special Collections Library Director Lynda Claassen described how Espinosa’s works matched up well with the Library’s interests in the border region.

“We partnered up with Paul because he creates films that address important issues of Chicano history and activism, areas in which the Library tries to collect primary research materials,” Claassen told the Guardian. “The interviews and research Paul did in collecting material for his films, much of which didn’t make its way into the films, will now become materials that students and researchers can utilize in their own work.”

University Librarian Brian Schottlaender hopes that having Espinosa’s archive at UCSD will inspire students to continue and to expand upon the topics of his works.

“He has deep roots in the community and on the campus,” Schottlaender told the Guardian. “We hope to help increase awareness of some of the important cross-cultural issues that Paul’s work has highlighted.”

UCSD will kick off Espinosa’s film series on Oct. 10 with an opening reception at Geisel Library. Film screenings will take place on Oct. 23 at the Cross Cultural Center, on Nov. 4 at Digital Gym Cinema and on Nov. 10 at the Museum of Photographic Arts.