Women & The National Film Registry: For Your Consideration


“A League of Their Own”, Sony Pictures

Women in Film & Video (WIFV) continues its multi-year initiative to have more women-made films included in the National Film Registry housed at the Library of CongressA LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN directed by Penny Marshall is one of the films WIFV nominated and was included in the National Film Registry in 2012. Although women have been involved with movies since the movie camera was invented, their work is severely underrepresented in this national collection. Of the 750 films on the National Film Registry list, only 52 are women-directed films, 36 are filmmakers of color.

The Library of Congress maintains the National Film Registry to honor “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films” that are at least 10 years old at the time of their inclusion in the Registry.  The selected films are “works of enduring significance to American Culture.” More information about the National Film Registry can be found here: https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/

The period for Public Nominations for 2019 will be open until September 15, 2019.  You may recommend up to 50 titles per year through the Library of Congress’ online nomination form: https://www.research.net/r/national-film-registry-2017 

To get you started on your 50 nominations we encourage you to consider 10 women-made films listed below. Descriptions are available here – https://www.wifv.org/news/national-film-registry/.

  • A WOMAN’S ERROR (1922) – written/directed by Tressie Souders
  • HE’S ONLY MISSING (1978) – written/directed/produced by Robin Smith
  • LOSING GROUND (1982) – written/directed by Kathleen Collins
  • YENTL (1983) – directed/co-written/co-produced by Barbra Streisand
  • SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993) – directed by Nora Ephron, screenplay co-written with David S. Ward and Jeff Arch
  • BOYS DON’T CRY (1999) – written/directed by Kimberly Peirce
  • THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (1999) – written/directed/produced by Aviva Kempner
  • ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) – written by Susannah Grant
  • LOVE & BASKETBALL (2000) – written/directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • UNDER THE SAME MOON / LA MISMA LUNA (2007) – directed by Patricia Riggen, written/produced by Ligiah Villalobos

WIFV celebrates its 40th Anniversary in late 2019 so we decided to develop a list of 40 women-made and/or women-centric films (including the 10 mentioned above) deserving of inclusion in the National Film Registry.  Thanks to WIFV Interns (Summer 2019) Lucia Fox-Shapiro, Julia Hay, and Nicole Spriggs-Moye for their research, descriptions, advocacy, and promotion of the 2019 nominations.

The full list of 40 is here!

  1. A WOMAN’S ERROR (1922) written and directed by Tressie Souders – may be the first film made by an African-American woman!
  2. THE CHAMP (1931) written by Frances Marion – only screenwriter to win back-to-back screenwriting Oscars; one for THE CHAMP
  3. THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962) about Helen Keller and starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke
  4. THE WOMEN’S HAPPY TIME COMMUNE (1972) directed by Sheila Page
  5. HE’S ONLY MISSING (1978) directed by Robin Smith
  6. OTHELLO (1980) directed by Liz White
  7. LOSING GROUND (1982) written and directed by Kathleen Collins
  8. VICTOR VICTORIA (1982) starring Julie Andrews
  9. YENTL (1983) written, directed, and produced by Barbra Streisand
  10. DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (1985) written by Leora Barish and directed by Susan Seidelman
  11. DIRTY DANCING (1987) written by Eleanor Bergstein
  12. CROSSING DELANCEY (1988) written by Susan Sandler and directed by Joan Micklin Silver
  13. MYSTIC PIZZA (1988) written by Amy Holden Jones
  14. FAST FOOD WOMEN (1992) directed by Anne Lewis
  15. JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE IRT (1992) written and directed by Leslie Harris
  16. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993) written and directed by Nora Ephron
  17. MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION (1994) written and directed by Freida Lee Mock
  18. CLUELESS (1995) written and directed by Amy Heckerling
  19. MATILDA (1996) screenplay by Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan
  20. THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1997) written and directed by Cheryl Dunye
  21. SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS (1998) written and directed by Tamara Jenkins
  22. THE PARENT TRAP (1998) directed by Nancy Meyers
  23. BOYS DON’T CRY (1999) written and directed by Kimberly Peirce
  24. BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999) starring Natasha Lyonne
  25. ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) written by Susannah Grant
  26. LOVE AND BASKETBALL (2000) written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  27. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (2000) directed by Aviva Kempner
  28. 5 GIRLS (2001) written and directed by Maria Finitzo
  29. LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) screenplay by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith
  30. BACK TO GOMBIN (2002) written and directed by Minna Packer
  31. FRIDA (2002) written by Hayden Herrera and directed by Julie Taymor
  32. REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (2002) based on the play by Josefina Lopez and directed by Patricia Cardoso
  33. SISTERS IN CINEMA (2003) written and directed by Yvonne Welbon
  34. D.E.B.S. (2004) written and directed by Angela Robinson
  35. MAKING TROUBLE: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women (2006) directed by Rachel Talbot
  36. STEPHANIE DALEY (2006) written and directed by Hilary Brougher
  37. BILLY THE KID (2007) directed by Jennifer Venditti
  38. HER NAME IS SABINE  (2007) written and directed by Sandrine Bonnaire
  39. UNDER THE SAME MOON / LA MISMA LUNA (2007) written by Ligiah Villalobos and directed by Patricia Riggen
  40. WHIP IT (2009) written by Shauna Cross and directed by Drew Barrymore

Melissa Houghton is Executive Director of Women In Film & Video (WIFV). WIFV is the fiscal sponsor for the 2020 One Woman One Vote Festival.