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Thirty Years of the National Film Registry

The National Film Preservation Board meets at the Library this morning. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Something exciting is happening today. Of course, there are always exciting things happening at the Library of Congress, but today I want to take you behind the scenes of one of my favorite duties as Librarian – selecting films for the National Film Registry.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant, and deemed worthy to be preserved for all time. This is the 30th year that the Library of Congress will add films to the National Film Registry!

Today, I will join members of the National Film Preservation Board for their annual meeting. The board was established by the National Film Preservation Act to serve as a public advisory group to the Librarian of Congress. This distinguished group of film scholars, artists, industry leaders and experts works on important issues related to the preservation of America’s film heritage. In the past year, I have visited the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library in Los Angeles and met with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. I admire their passion and dedication to film preservation, and I am grateful to the entire board for its service.

One of the board’s duties is to advise me on annual selections for the National Film Registry. At their meeting today, members will begin the process of developing a list of titles for my consideration. Given that the Registry selections exemplify the range and diversity of American film, it’s important for us to get lots of input. In addition to hearing from the board, we invited the public to submit nominations. For this year’s Registry, we received 30,000 votes for 6,300 different films! Thank you for your contributions.

Like many of you, I love the magic of movies. I enjoy all the watching, discussing and debating that goes into selecting the Registry films. The Registry creates a lot of excitement and conversation. One of the most important things it does is raise awareness about film preservation. I am proud of the role the Library plays in preserving and providing access to our film heritage. Visit the National Screening Room to see a set of films we recently made available online.

We will announce the 30th National Film Registry selections on Dec. 12. Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate past Registry titles. Stay tuned!

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (Nov. 1 – 3, 2018)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Thursday, November 1 (7:30 p.m.) The Dawn Patrol (First National, 1930) Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. co-star as two ace pilots in a Royal Flying Corps squadron dealing with the stress of combat in France during World War I. John Monk […]

Film Night at the Mary Pickford Theater: Thursday, November 8

Thursday, November 8th, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. Every month, films from the Library’s collection are shown at the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison building, ranging from titles newly preserved by the National Audio Visual Conservation Center film lab, classics from the National Film Registry, and lesser known titles worthy of discovery. NATIONAL FILM […]

The First Film Version of Frankenstein, Newly Restored!

Rarely has the arrival of a film at the Packard Campus occasioned as much anticipation as the day in April 2015 when the sole surviving nitrate print of the first cinematic adaptation of Frankenstein (Edison Manufacturing Company, 1910) was accessioned into our collection. It’s not because the film is all that revelatory—it’s most decidedly not—or […]

Adventures in Research: A Radio Drama of Discovery

“Adventures in Research! This is Paul Shannon bringing you another transcribed story of science, produced as a public service, in cooperation with the Westinghouse Research Laboratories, and today telling you the story of…” So begins Adventures in Research, a radio show broadcast from 1942 to the mid-1950s that brought listeners into the world of researchers […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (Oct. 25 – 27, 2018)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Thursday, October 25 (7:30 p.m.) Homicidal (Columbia, 1961) The horror films produced and directed by William Castle were often more famous for their promotional gimmicks than their effectiveness as movies. This one was typical of Castle’s carnival barker approach with its tagline […]

Reading the Film Registry: “Halloween” (1978)

With its much-anticipated sequel arriving in theaters October 18th, author Murray Leeder looks back at the original 1978 “Halloween”–added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry in 2006–and how it was a cut above so many other films of its time. See the essay below: //www.loc.gov/programs/static/national-film-preservation-board/documents/halloween.pdf    

Frankenstein at the Mary Pickford Theater: Friday, October 26

Friday, October 26th, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. Every month, films from the Library’s collection are shown at the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison building, ranging from titles newly preserved by the National Audio Visual Conservation Center film lab, classics from the National Film Registry, and lesser known titles worthy of discovery. On Friday, […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (October 18 – 20, 2018)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Thursday, October 18 (7:30 p.m.) An Evening of Folk, Blues, Soul and Rock Highlights from ‘Soundstage (1974-1982) Soundstage is a live concert television series produced by WTTW Chicago and distributed by PBS. The original series aired between 1974 and 1985; it was […]