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October 25, 2005

Librarian of Congress Receives 2005 Hollywood Film Preservation Award

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington received the 2005 Hollywood Film Preservation Award at a star-studded gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 24. The Ninth Annual Hollywood Film Festival honored Billington for his advocacy and leadership in the preservation of the nation’s film heritage.

The Hollywood Film Festival has become one of the major film industry events since its inception nine years ago. This signature event honors excellence in the art of filmmaking in all its disciplines, including acting, directing, cinematography, editing, visual effects, etc. The category of film preservation was added in 2003. Billington is the third recipient of the award.

Paula Wagner, producer of box-office hits such as "Mission Impossible," "War of the Worlds" and "Elizabethtown," introduced Billington at this year’s event. She informed the audience that "more than half the films made in America before 1950 are lost and gone forever…. Fortunately, James Billington and the Library of Congress are ensuring that what we create today will be available for generations to come, and for that, our industry owes a debt of gratitude."

In accepting the award, the Librarian praised the film industry for its legacy of excellence. "You are the geniuses who produce the best of American film—our country’s signature creative enterprise and one of the greatest art forms of the 20th century," Billington said. He described the opening of the National Audio Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va., in 2006. "It will be a state-of-the-art facility for the preservation of our film, television and recorded-sound heritage," he said.

The festival’s founder and executive director Carlos de Abreu cited Billington "as a devoted and active advocate and leader in the efforts to preserve the film heritage for many years." In addition to the Librarian, this year’s Hollywood Film Festival honorees included Charlize Theron for actress of the year, Joaquin Phoenix as actor of the year, Sam Mendes as best director of the year, and Diane Keaton, who received a life achievement award.

Wagner told the crowd of Hollywood’s finest that included Halle Berry, Keanu Reeves, Goldie Hawn, Jodie Foster and George Lucas, "Dr. Billington has worked ceaselessly in the effort to save, restore and preserve our films and film heritage."

The Library’s film collection comprises more than 250,000 titles, including the world’s largest collection of Hollywood cinema, independent films and all aspects of the nation’s film history. For the past half century, the Library’s motion picture conservation program has undertaken nearly 75 percent of all the film preservation work done in American public archives.

Recognizing the Library’s leadership role in preservation, Congress created the National Film Preservation Board within the Library of Congress in 1989. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian names 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant motion pictures to the National Film Registry each year.

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved for all time, either through the Library’s massive motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers.

The Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library with more than 130 million items. The Library of Congress contains the largest collections of film and television in the world, from the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture to the latest feature releases.

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PR 05-237
10/25/05
ISSN 0731-3527

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