Selected by the Library of Congress each year, 25 films have been newly added to the National Film Registry.
This year’s inductees span over 120 years and include a wide range of genres: comedy, documentary, science fiction, fantasy, animation, silent films and more. Represented behind the screens of the films are not only Hollywood studios, but also independent filmmakers, women directors, filmmakers of color and students.
“Films help reflect our cultural history and creativity — and show us new ways of looking at ourselves — though movies haven’t always been deemed worthy of preservation,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a statement. “The Library of Congress will work with our partners in the film community to ensure these films are preserved for generations to come.”
The 2021 class of movies are the most diverse to enter the registry at once, according to the statement, which highlights titles like “Selena,” “Chicana” and “Cooley High,” among others.
To be added to the registry, a film must be at least 10 years old and “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The public is encouraged to submit nominations each year for consideration; the Library typically sees an average of about 2,000 submissions annually. (This year, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” were highly supported by public nominations, says the statement.) The Librarian of Congress then chooses titles after discussing with the National Film Preservation Board and Library specialists.
Select movies added to the registry in its over-30-year history are available to stream in the National Screening Room on the Library of Congress website for free.
The National Film Registry was created in the 1980s amidst changes to American cinema, prompting Congress to pass the National Film Preservation Act of 1988.
“Multiple cross-currents changed the landscape in production financing, distribution channels, home-entertainment markets, artist rights, technical alteration of movies and color film preservation,” the Library’s website explains. “These oft-conflicting trends led to congressional involvement over the issue of ‘material alteration,’ notably the colorization of black-and-white films.”
A full list of the now 825 films on the registry can be found here.
Below are the list of films added to the National Film Registry in 2021 in chronological order.
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- “Ringling Brothers Parade Film” (1902)
- “Jubilo” (1919)
- “The Flying Ace” (1926)
- “Hellbound Train” (1930)
- “Flowers and Trees” (1932)
- “Strangers on a Train” (1951)
- “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962)
- “Evergreen” (1965)
- “Requiem-29” (1970)
- “The Murder of Fred Hampton” (1971)
- “Pink Flamingos” (1972)
- “Sounder” (1972)
- “The Long Goodbye” (1973)
- “Cooley High” (1975)
- “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert” (1979)
- “Chicana” (1979)
- “The Wobblies” (1979)
- “Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” (1983)
- “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
- “Stop Making Sense” (1984)
- “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (1987)
- “The Watermelon Woman” (1996)
- “Selena” (1997)
- “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
- “WALL•E” (2008)
More information about the National Film Registry can be found on the Library of Congress website.
Top Image: Courtesy Warner Bros.