Girish Mahajan (Editor)

National Film Registry

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Film preservation


National Film Registry

1988; 29 years ago (1988)United States


The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.



The NFPB adds to the NFR up to 25 "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films" each year, showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation. To be eligible for inclusion, a film must be at least ten years old. For the first selection in 1989, the public nominated almost 1,000 films for consideration. Members of the NFPB then developed individual ballots of possible films for inclusion. The ballots were tabulated into a list of 25 films which was then modified by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and his staff at the Library for the final selection. Since 1997, members of the public have been able to nominate up to 50 films a year for the NFPB and Librarian to consider.

The NFR includes films ranging from Hollywood classics to orphan films. A film is not required to be feature-length, nor is it required to have been theatrically released in the traditional sense. The Registry contains newsreels, silent films, student films, experimental films, short films, music videos, films out of copyright protection or in the public domain, film serials, home movies, documentaries, animation and independent films. As of the 2016 listing, there are 700 films preserved in the Registry.

Currently, the earliest listed film is Newark Athlete (1891), and the most recent is 13 Lakes (2004). Counting the 11 multi-year serials in the NFR once each (as the NFR does) by year of completion, the years with the most films selected are 1928, 1939, and 1940, with 18 films from each year chosen for preservation. The time between a film's debut and its selection varies greatly. The longest span is 119 years; Newark Athlete was originally released in 1891 and selected for preservation in 2010. The shortest span is the minimum 10 years; this distinction is shared by Raging Bull, Do the Right Thing, Goodfellas, Toy Story, Fargo and 13 Lakes.


^ I Parts 1–5, 7, and 10
^ II A serial of thirteen short films
^ III A serial of eight short films
^ IV A serial of seven short films
^ V Not released until 1952
^ VI A serial of twenty-one short films
^ VII A serial of fourteen short films
^ VIII A serial of twenty short films
^ IX A serial of seven feature films
^ X Remade at least 25 times; the NFR entry encompasses all versions

Number of films by release year

This table is through the 2016 induction list (700 films total). For purposes of this list, multi-year serials are counted only once (as they are in the Registry) by year of completion.


National Film Registry Wikipedia