"Berkeley in the Sixties" is a documentary about precisely what the title implies, constructed more traditionally than such recent popular fare as "The Thin Blue Line" and "Roger and Me."
"Berkeley" relies on 1960s archival footage contrasted with more recent interviews. The result is, as you might expect, rather one-sided - but still quite fascinating, regardless of which side you may have been on at the time. The film opens with an incident in 1960 - a demonstration against the House Un-American Activities Committee - which was ironically publicized by a government propaganda film intended to paint the incident as negative. Instead, it served to draw students to Berkeley, helping make the campus a center for protest movements.
Then came gatherings in favor of civil rights, the Free Speech Movement and the anti-Vietnam War protests, followed later by women's rights and Black Panthers, before it all seemed to dissipate around 1970.
The number of impressive clips used to illustrate each phase is quite amazing, the result of six years' work as the filmmakers put it all together, and some was found in rather unlikely places, such as a People's Park segment that was located in Finland.
Producer-director Mark Kitchell also does an admirable job of at least attempting to show both sides of many of the issues, though sometimes, without any special prompting from the film's structure, the Right looks fairly foolish.
The California governor at the time, Ronald Reagan, makes an appearance, chastising faculty for allowing students to get out of hand, and such familiar figures as Allen Ginsberg, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Mario Savio and Joan Baez are seen, among many others. Some of these are missing from the 15 more recent interviews - Savio seems a particularly odd omission. And some people are not as readily identifiable as others - superimposed names might have helped.
Furthermore, financial restrictions are evident, as with the music being somewhat limited - but that seems to have just inspired Kitchell's sense of creativity. In the case of the music, it seems appropriate to use almost exclusively protest songs rather than just any old familiar '60s sounds.
"Berkeley in the Sixties" is not rated but would doubtless receive a PG-13, primarily for language.