As a distinct university unit under then UP President’s Council for the Arts, Film Center was established in 1976 with poet and playwright Virginia R. Moreno as its founding director.
In 1990, it came to be housed in a building complex that stands to this date with a main cinema, archives vault and pertinent facilities for centralized workshops. Screenings of the most significant films of the day – both local and international, and of art-house and commercial releases – thrived to enrich in more ways than one university life.
The Film Center pioneered film training with its international exchanges that brought to the country luminaries like Vilgot Sjoman, Werner Schroeter, Peter Kern, Kohei Oguri, Don Pennebaker, Christopher Giercke, Wolfgang Langsfeld, Danny Wolman, Alexander Walker and Tadao Sato. Through the years, it forged ties with most active practitioners from the local industry including Tikoy Aguiluz, Butch Perez, Ishmael Bernal, Jorge Arago, Romy Vitug, Eddie Romero, Lino Brocka, Lamberto Avellana among others.
The Manila Short Film Festival that the Film Center spearheaded in the early 1980s brought prominence to budding filmmakers bound to make names for themselves most notable of whom is Raymond Red who would later bag the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his short film Anino.
In 2003 with a UP Board of Regents resolution, the Film Center was officially merged with the Film and Audiovisual Department to give rise to what is now recognized as Film Institute.
The journal Pelikula was published semiannually by the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication Foundation, Inc., the Laurel-Rufino-Prieto Foundation, Inc. and managed by the Film and Audiovisual Communication Department of UP-CMC from 1999-2001.