Contact: Jill Brett (202) 707-2905

June 9, 1997

Librarian of Congress Announces Continuation of National Film Registry Tour

The National Film Registry Tour will continue its path to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, announced James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, today in Washington. The Tour features 36 films from the National Film Registry, representing the full breadth of America's film legacy. The purpose of the Tour is to celebrate the diversity of American filmmaking while promoting public awareness of the need to protect and preserve America's film heritage. For once, the public can see restored prints of classic films projected on a big screen in a darkened auditorium as they were meant to be seen.

Dr. Billington's announcement coincides with the first meeting of the National Film Preservation Foundation Board of Directors at the Library of Congress. The Foundation was established by Congress to unite private donations and federal dollars in support of film preservation.

"I am very excited to hear that the National Film Registry Tour will reach the 25th state this year," said Board member Martin Scorsese. "The Library is to be congratulated on this initiative, which allows the public to appreciate the true cinema experience and to understand the importance of safeguarding the nation's cinema heritage." Mr. Scorsese is a leading advocate in the campaign to save the nation's film heritage.

The national film preservation initiative has been spearheaded by the Library of Congress, which has the largest collection of films in the world, in concert with the film industry and archives as well as the academic communities.

The National Film Registry was created in 1988. The Registry recognizes the richness of American filmmaking; each year 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films are added to it. The films on tour are selected from the Registry and include a broad range of film types, dates and filmmakers. Audiences will see "Gertie the Dinosaur," "The Battle of San Pietro" and "Castro Street" as well as "Safety Last," "On the Waterfront" and "Chinatown."

The perilous state of America's film heritage was documented by the Library and the National Film Preservation Board in "Film Preservation 1993: A Study of the Current State of American Film Preservation." More than half of all American films made before 1951 are lost forever. Film is a fragile medium and motion pictures, both old and new, face deterioration problems. Only by storing films in low- temperature and low-humidity environments can the decay process be slowed. The majority of American films do not receive this type of care and are in critical need of preservation.

Funding for the Tour comes from the James Madison Council, the Library's private sector advisory board. The Film Foundation, a group of leading film directors committed to film preservation, and Turner Classic Movies have provided additional support. Motion picture studios have generously provided new prints of the titles under their control. The Tour represents the preservation work of many organizations, in addition to that of the Library of Congress, including the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film and Video and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

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PR 97-107
ISSN 0731-3527

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