I am happy to say that I work with some of the most fascinating, brilliant and passionate people that I’ve ever known. The halls here at the Library of Congress National Audio-Video Conservation Center are abuzz every day with discussions about movies, directors, cinematography, casting decisions, and opinions about what is the greatest film of all time. (You can add your thoughts in the comments).
The most-lively debates revolve around the National Film Registry.
Second to Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, I think I have one of the greatest jobs at the Library. An important part of my role is working with the National Film Preservation Board to research and recommend works to the Librarian for induction into the National Film Registry.
I can tell you that a lot of thoughtful discussion and respectful debate goes into the final recommendations. We review Hollywood classics, silent era titles, documentaries, educational and industrial movies, as well as films representing a vibrant diversity of people, cultures and influences from filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, actors, actresses, cinematographers, composers, and other crafts.
One of the most important voices, and one that is of great value to the National Film Preservation Board and the Librarian, is yours. Public nominations play a key role when discussing and reviewing films for consideration. I should mention that this is not a “vote.” The National Film Registry isn’t a popularity contest, although a lot of blockbusters are on the list. It’s about films that are important to our American history and culture, and whose legacies define generations. The National Film Registry strives to ensure the survival, conservation and increased awareness of America’s film heritage.
If you ask members of the National Film Preservation Board, they will say that all films are worthy of preservation, but under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the Librarian of Congress can only select 25 titles annually that are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant, are at least 10 years old, and extant.
I don’t claim to be a film expert. You don’t have to be one, either. You just have to care. If you get the chance and can find it, I highly recommend watching the film “These Amazing Shadows” (2011). It gives heartfelt insight on why the National Film Registry exists, and why creating awareness for preservation is still needed and important.
What you think matters, and we read your letters and comments with great interest.
The Library of Congress invites you to submit for the 2022 National Film Registry. Deadline is August 15. Any nominations made after the deadline will be considered for 2023.
You may nominate up to 50 films through the online nomination form.
There are currently 825 films on the National Film Registry and we do offer a list of some films not-yet-on-the-registry, if you need inspiration or quick reference.
You can visit the National Film Registry for more information or email us at [email protected]
If my Library of Congress colleagues are reading this, you can nominate, too. Every opinion matters.
A film being selected to the NFR is not, and should not be, a popularity contest. That said, I feel that LOC staff are leaving themselves open to suspicions of “political correctness” in some of the choices made in recent years. Well, at least I’m not aware of any NFR films that have been removed due to perceived “wokeness” issues, at least not yet.
Lately, silent films are having a tough time getting NFR recognition and this is ironic given the number of “lost” or elusive silents that have been restored and now circulate in beautiful looking editions via Blu-ray. Even so, the 2021 list may be a low point for silents.
Each year I nominate THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD (1934) for NFR recognition. By all accounts, it is a true classic and one of the very few American films that focuses on Antisemitism in a timely manner. It was made during the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany. This film was also nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award (actually called “Best Production” then). Its continued absence from the NFR is a major omission to the integrity of the project.