Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
December 2, 1996
1996 National Film Registry To Be Announced
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will announce the titles of 25 films selected this year for the National Film Registry at a press conference at 12 noon on Wednesday, December 4, in the Poetry Office, Room A10, Attic level, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. (Great Hall entrance). For the first time, the event will be carried live on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) television network.
The National Film Registry was first established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988. The act was renewed for seven more years in 1996 (P.L. 104-285). Under the terms of the act, each year the Librarian of Congress must name up to 25 "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" films. This year's list represents the eighth group of films to be named, bringing the total to 200.
As in years past, the Librarian of Congress will name the 25 films after consulting with the National Film Preservation Board and soliciting nominations from film critics, historians, and the general public. He also is advised by the staff of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, which holds the largest film and television archive in the world.
For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress will seek to assure that the best possible print has been preserved, whether through its own efforts or those of the copyright holder or other archive.
The purpose of the National Film Registry is not to pick the "best" films. As in year's past, the Librarian has emphasized that "this is not Academy Awards night." The purpose of the legislation establishing the registry was rather to recognize motion pictures as an American art form and to emphasize to the public and leaders in the government and private sector that motion pictures are in need of greater protection and preservation.
It is estimated that as many as half the films made before 1950 have been lost simply because of physical deterioration, in many cases because of the highly unstable nitrate film stock on which they were made. The Library's Motion Picture Conservation Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, has preserved more films than any other archive. In 1994, the Library published a report on a national plan for a public-private partnership to save American films and make them more accessible to the public. Recommendations from the report are now in the process of implementation.
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