The Registry — and Beyond

The closing days of the year are always exciting here at the Library of Congress, because the Librarian of Congress names the 25 films that are this year’s selections to the National Film Registry, which designates films that are to be preserved for posterity due to their cultural, aesthetic and historical value.

But keep in mind, it’s part of a larger preservation story that takes place every day at the Library’s Packard Campus in Culpeper, Va., 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 (6 million items, and counting) of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings.

This year’s picks, the culmination of a process advised by the National Film Preservation Board with extensive public input, include “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Bambi” (1942), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Stand and Deliver” (1988), “The Lost Weekend” (1945) “Porgy and Bess” (1959) and “Norma Rae” (1979). There are many other less well-known films on this year’s list, but all are fascinating in one way or another – for example the home movies of Fayard and Harold Nicholas, famed dancers in the 1930s and 1940s.  While documenting their stage life, they captured rare footage now unable to be found anywhere else – scenes from the interior of the Cotton Club, for example.

Also on this year’s list is the 1921 full-length silent Charlie Chaplin classic, “The Kid,” featuring a child star named Jackie Coogan later known to television audiences as Uncle Fester in TV’s “The Addams Family.”

There were 2,228 films nominated to the registry this year; if you want to nominate some, you are welcome to voice your opinions at the website of the National Film Preservation Board.

And heads up! This is important!

On Thursday, Dec. 29 at 10 p.m. on PBS stations’ show “Independent Lens” (check local listings) an excellent documentary about the National Film Preservation Board and the registry will be aired.  Titled “These Amazing Shadows,” the film by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton tells how the NFPB is saving these wonderful artworks from extinction.

If you love movies, you won’t want to miss “These Amazing Shadows.”

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