Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden Dec. 14 announced the annual selection of American films to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, this year putting a spotlight on diverse filmmakers.
“The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American artforms, our cinematic experience,” Hayden said. “With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”
Under the National Film Preservation Act, each year the National Film Registry chooses 25 films for preservation due to their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage. This year’s selections include a record number of films directed by women and filmmakers of color, including 10 directed by women and seven by people of color.
Among the class of 2020 are the innovative silent film Suspense, which was co-directed by a woman in 1913; Sidney Poitier’s Oscar-winning performance in 1963’s Lilies of the Field; the 1978 mega-hit musical Grease; 1980’s musical comedy The Blues Brothers; the animated blockbuster Shrek, co-directed by Vicky Jenson in 2001; and one of the biggest public vote getters, director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight.
“This is not only a great honor for all of us who worked on The Dark Knight, this is also a tribute to all of the amazing artists and writers who have worked on the great mythology of Batman over the decades,” Nolan said.
Other selections include 1993’s The Joy Luck Club from director Wayne Wang; the atypical war film The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow; Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange; and the 2010 PBS documentary Freedom Riders, which becomes the most-recent film in the registry.
The registry now includes 800 films, a fraction of the 1.3 million films in the Library’s collections. More information about the National Film Registry can be found at loc.gov/film.
The Librarian of Congress makes the annual registry selections after conferring with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) and a cadre of Library specialists. Also considered were more than 5,500 titles nominated by the public. Films must be at least 10 years old. Nominations for next year will be accepted through the fall at loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/nominate/.
In addition to advising the Librarian of Congress on the annual selection of titles to the National Film Registry, the NFPB also provides counsel on national preservation planning policy. Many titles named to the registry have already been preserved by the copyright holders, filmmakers or other archives. In cases where a selected title has not already been preserved, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film will be preserved by some entity and available for future generations, either through the Library’s motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers.
The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (loc.gov/avconservation/). It is home to more than 8.8 million collection items.
In 2013, the Library of Congress released a report that conclusively determined that 70 percent of the nation’s silent feature films have been lost forever and only 14 percent exist in their original 35 mm format.
Films Selected for the 2020 National Film Registry (in chronological order):
- Suspense (1913)
- Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
- Bread (1918)
- The Battle of the Century (1927)
- With Car and Camera Around the World (1929)
- Cabin in the Sky (1943)
- Outrage (1950)
- The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
- Lilies of the Field (1963)
- A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
- Wattstax (1973)
- Grease (1978)
- The Blues Brothers (1980)
- Losing Ground (1982)
- Illusions (1982)
- The Joy Luck Club (1993)
- The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)
- Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
- The Ground (1993-2001)
- Shrek (2001)
- Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- The Hurt Locker (2009)
- Freedom Riders (2010)