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Inside of AFI Theater in Silver Spring with audience in their seats

The Festival, the National Film Registry and You!

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What a weekend!  Now that the inaugural Library of Congress Festival of Film & Sound has come to a close, there are so many wonderful highlights to share and remember.

Over four days, cinema fans traveled from over 10 states and several countries — Australia being the farthest—to watch over 30 rare and restored films from the Library’s collection and other preeminent archives. All silent films featured live music accompaniment, and each film included fascinating stories and perspectives from film historians, authors and Library preservation staff.  The weekend included two remarkable presentations from legendary sound designer Ben Burtt on the history of sound in film, and his extraordinary career including “Star Wars” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T. -The Extra Terrestrial” (1982), and “Wall-E” (2008) to name a few.

One of the highlights for me was presenting Ben with a National Film Registry certificate for “Star Wars” (1977). “Star Wars” was one of the first 25 films added to the National Film Registry in 1989. The sounds of R2D2, C3PO, the Millennium Falcon, Star Destroyers, Darth Vader’s breathing, and the hum of the lightsaber are just a few of the intricate sounds that showcase the brilliance of Ben Burtt.


Sound Designer Ben Burtt receives a National Film Registry certificate for “Star Wars” (1977) at the Library of Congress Festival of Film & Sound.


After spending time with Ben and learning about his process for sound discovery, I found myself thinking about unsung heroes in filmmaking. These behind-the-scenes innovators draw us into a moment and leave us forever changed by the experience.

It’s one more reason why the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board is so important.  Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the National Film Preservation Board works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage. The Board also researches and recommends works to the Librarian of Congress for selection into the National Film Registry, and advises her on the latest information in film preservation.

Through this act of Congress, the National Film Preservation Board consists of 44 members and alternates representing the film industry; producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, composers, archivists, scholars, and other experts chosen by the Librarian of Congress.

Public nominations also play a key role in advising the Librarian. Think of yourself as the 45th member of the Board.  Which films do you deem culturally, historically and aesthetically important to our cinema heritage, and are worthy of preservation?   If you are like our Board members, you may say that all films are worthy of preservation, however the Librarian of Congress may only select 25 films each year, and the decision is not always an easy one.

Let us know what you think!  You can nominate up to 50 films each year and you don’t have to be a film expert. Your criteria is that a film must be deemed “culturally, historically and/or aesthetically significant,” must be at least 10 years old, and extant – meaning a copy must exist.

You can view the complete list of the National Film Registry to see if a film has already been chosen, and we offer a list of some films not yet on the registry, if you need reference.

Deadline for nominations for 2023 National Film Registry is August 15, 2023, and any nominations after that date will be applied to the 2024 registry.

If you were at the Library of Congress Festival of Film & Sound, let me know what were your favorite moments. We always love to hear from you.

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