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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!

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