WASHINGTON – The Library of Congress once again demonstrated its willingness to reach deep into obscurity as it added 25 films to the National Film Registry, ranging from home movies taken 50 years ago at an internment camp for Japanese-Americans to Clint Eastwood’s “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and Mel Brooks’ debut feature, “The Producers.”
This is the eighth year that the Library of Congress has added to its list of movies on the National Film Registry, bringing the total to 200 films. Among the movies included in this year’s list are “The Deer Hunter,” “Destry Rides Again,” “The Graduate” and “Woodstock” (see complete list below).
“This selection process should not be seen as the Kennedy Center Honors, the Academy Awards, the People’s Choice Awards or even America’s most beloved films,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said. “But they are films that continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic value – and in many cases represent many other films deserving of recognition.”
The public nominates films, and the National Film Preservation Board meets several times to whittle down the approximately 1,000 submissions. When the list reaches about 50, Billington joins the process and begins making the final cut.
This year’s list includes “Topaz,” which is the second collection of home movie footage to be added to the Film Registry. The first home movie named to the registry was the Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s assassination. The “Topaz” footage is made up of film secretly shot by Japanese-American prisoner Dave Tatsuno at the Topaz War Relocation Authority Center in Topaz, Utah.
Tatsuno was one of thousands of Japanese-Americans who were forced into camps during World War II. A Caucasian employee at the camp smuggled the camera in for Tatsuno, who spent the next two years surreptitiously filming camp life.
Other notable films that were included in this year’s list are “Broken Blossoms,” “The Heiress” and “Road to Morocco.” Although the Library of Congress is charged with administering the nation’s copyright laws, being named to the registry offers no special protection for films. Ten of the 200 films on the registry are not even part of the library’s collection.
Many of the films are included in the National Film Registry Tour, which is now in its second season. A selection from the registry’s films will hit Seattle’s Cineplex Odeon Meridian Complex Dec. 12-19. Next stops will be the Egyptian Theater and the Flicks in Boise, Idaho, Jan. 23-26, and the Hawaii Theater in Honolulu, Feb. 20-23. Among the films included in the tour are past registry inductees “Chinatown,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Ninotchka,” “On the Waterfront” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Today’s announcement comes just two months after President Clinton signed the National Film Preservation Act of 1996 into law. The act extended the library’s authority to spend $250,000 a year on film preservation. It also established the National Film Preservation Foundation. The public/private foundation is designed to raise private money for the preservation of movies that will not be preserved by “commercial interests.” Those include movies in the public domain, educational films, historical footage and documentaries.
Billington praised helmer Martin Scorsese for making the first donation to the foundation. Scorsese gave $25,000, Billington said.