National Film Registry

Women in Film & Video DCNational Film Registry

Women in Film & Video continues its multi-year initiative to have more women-made films included in the National Film Registry housed at the Library of Congress.  Although women have been involved with movies since the movie camera was invented, their work is severely underrepresented in this national collection.

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.

Get started with your nominations (or viewing list) here with these films that deserve to be in the National Film Registry.  You just need to include the title and year the film was made.  The deadline for nominations is August 15, 2024.  The nomination form is here –

A WOMAN’S ERROR (1922) written/directed by Tressie Souders, acknowledged as the first film directed by a female African-American filmmaker. No print of the film has been found.
IT HAPPENS TO US (1971) directed by Amalie Rothschild. This seminal documentary is the first US film, made before Roe v. Wade by an all-woman crew, to champion a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy and have reproductive autonomy over her own body. It was prescient in having a wide range of women (and one man), rich and poor, black and white, married and unmarried, young and older, speak candidly about their abortions and the decisions that led them to make that painful choice.
THE WOMEN’S HAPPY TIME COMMUNE (1972) directed by Sheila Page where the Old West becomes the stomping ground for a motley crew of young and middle-aged women who are considering banding together to form a commune. The film offers a lively immersion into the feminist ferment of the early 1970’s. Watch trailer here.
HE’S ONLY MISSING (1978) directed by Robin Smith. It documents a daughter’s feelings of uncertainty as a family waits to learn if the man of the house is dead or “just missing” during the Vietnam War. Throughout the film, the subjects reveal their insecurities and find their voices to get the answers they need about their men while raising the country’s awareness of the missing. Watch the film here.
FAST FOOD WOMEN (1992) directed by Anne Lewis documents the low wage, no benefits jobs in America’s service economy.  Despite the lack of employment benefits and low wage, these women are working in heavily-controlled environments to support their families in communities ravaged by a failing economy. Available on Appalshop website.
JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE IRT (1992) written/directed by Leslie Harris, is a drama that follows an ambitious young Black teen in Brooklyn, as she juggles her social life, her education, and an unexpected pregnancy. The film, now 20 years old, documents the complexity of the Black, female experience, while also authentically depicting teen pregnancy at a time when it was rarely discussed publicly. Available on Amazon Prime.
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993) co-written/directed by Nora Ephron is her breakout film as a director.  The film was nominated for two Oscars: Best Writing- Screenplay Written Directly for Screen, and Best Music- Original Song 1994. The film captures Ephron’s distinctive voice and style, making it the quintessential Ephron romantic comedy. Available on Amazon Prime.
FREEDOM ON MY MIND (1994) produced/directed by Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford tells the story of the Mississippi voter registration movement of 1961 to 1964. Available on HBO Max.
CLUELESS (1995) written/directed by Amy Heckerling is a 90s classic that follows a rich, popular and intelligent Beverly Hills teen and her journey of self-discovery. Available on Amazon Prime.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (2000) directed by Aviva Kempner. As America’s first Jewish baseball star, Greenberg helped break down the barriers of discrimination in American sports and society. Watch the trailer here.
UNDER THE SAME MOON / LA MISMA LUNA (2007) written by Ligiah Villalobos and directed by Patricia Riggen follows a young Mexican boy on a mission to LA to reunite with his mother after his grandmother passes away, and puts a human face to the dilemmas of illegal immigration and unaccompanied minors. Available on Amazon Prime.
FROZEN RIVER (2008) written/directed by Courtney Hunt and feature debut of cinematographer Reed Morano, follows two mothers who turn to smuggling immigrants from Canada into the US through Indigenous land and covers the complexities of illegal immigration and abject poverty by showcasing two strong women taking control of their unfortunate situations, despite the consequences. Available on HBO Max.


THE CHAMP (1931) written by Frances Marion, who may still be the most prolific screenwriter in American cinema and only screenwriter to win back-to-back writing Oscars;
OTHELLO (1980) directed by Liz White with an all black cast and crew;
DIRTY DANCING (1987) written by Eleanor Bergstein;
CROSSING DELANCEY (1988) written by Susan Sandler and directed by Joan Micklin Silver;
SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS (1998) written/directed by Tamara Jenkins;
ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) written by Susannah Grant;
5 GIRLS (2001) written/directed by Maria Finitzo;
LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) screenplay by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith;
FRIDA (2002) written by Hayden Herrera and directed by Julie Taymor;
SISTERS IN CINEMA (2003) written/directed by Yvonne Welbon traces the careers of inspiring African American women filmmakers;
D.E.B.S. (2004) written/directed by Angela Robinson;
MAKING TROUBLE: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women (2006) directed by Rachel Talbot;
STEPHANIE DALEY (2006) written and directed by Hilary Brougher;
BILLY THE KID (2007) directed by Jennifer Venditti;
HER NAME IS SABINE  (2007) written/directed by Sandrine Bonnaire;
WHIP IT (2009) written by Shauna Cross and directed by Drew Barrymore.

2023 Selections to the National Film Registry

We get to remove three films off our list for inclusion in the Registry – DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (1985) written by Leora Barish and directed Susan Seidelman, LOVE & BASKETBALL (2000) the directorial debut of Gina Prince-Bythewood, and MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION (1994) directed by Freida Lee Mock. It only took 12 years to get LOVE & BASKETBALL from our list to theirs! Other women-made films added this year were HELEN KELLER IN HER STORY (1954) directed by Nancy Hamilton, QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (1991) directed by Nina Menkes, and WE’RE ALIVE (1974) by Michie Gleason, Christine Lesiak and Kathy Levitt.  Read full press release here.

2022 Selections to the National Film Registry

We get to remove one film off our list for inclusion in the Registry – BETTY TELLS HER STORY (1972) directed by Liane Brandon and recently preserved by the NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund. This film is considered groundbreaking in the documentary genre- in two continuous takes, a woman sitting in a chair tells a story about the purchase of a dress — twice. The way Betty tells the story the first and second time, reveals her true feelings about herself and her place in the world. Available on Other women-made films added this year were UNION MAIDS (1976) directed by Julia Reichert, James Klein and Miles Mogulescu; WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989) written by Nora Ephron; and PARIAH (2011) written/directed by Dee Rees. Read full press release here

2021 Selections to the National Film Registry

We get to remove two films off our list for inclusion in the Registry – THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1996) directed by Cheryl Dunye and THE WOBBLIES (1979) made by Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird. Other women-made or women-centric films included this year were CHICANA (1979) directed by Sylvia Morales, SELENA (1979) featuring Jennifer Lopez in her first starring role, and HELLBOUND TRAIN (1930) a surreal and mesmerizing allegorical film by traveling evangelists James and Eloyce Gist is an important and, until recently, overlooked milestone in Black cinema.  The 2021 selections represent one of the most diverse classes of films to enter the registry, with movies dating back nearly 120 years and representing the work of Hollywood studios, independent filmmakers, documentarians, women directors, filmmakers of color, students and the silent era of film. The selections bring the number of films in the registry to 825, representing a portion of the 1.7 million films in the Library’s collections. Read press release on all 25 films included in 2021 here.

2020 Selections to the National Film Registry

The record-setting 10 films directed by women on the 2020 list include the 1913 silent film SUSPENSE co-directed by Lois Weber; the 1918 silent film BREAD about a woman struggling to pull herself out of poverty, directed by Ida May Park; the 1929 film WITH CAR AND A CAMERA AROUND THE WORLD  by Aloha Wanderwell; the 1950 film OUTRAGE about the once verboten topic of sexual assault directed by Ida Lupino; one of the first feature films directed by a Black woman with Kathleen Collins’ LOSING GROUND from 1982; groundbreaking director Julie Dash’s student film ILLUSIONS confronting Hollywood racism from 1982; the 1994 film THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS by Lourdes Portillo; SHREK co-directed by Vicky Jenson in 2001; the 2006 film MAUNA KEA: Temple Under Siege co-directed by Joan Lander; and the atypical war film THE HURT LOCKER about soldiers in Baghdad dismantling unexploded bombs, directed by Kathryn Bigelow in 2008. Read the press release here.  WIFV nominated OUTRAGE, LOSING GROUND, and THE HURT LOCKER for several years and appreciate your support of those nominations.

2019 Selections to the National Film Registry

Finally, BOYS DON’T CRY written and directed by Kimberly Peirce has been included in the National Film Registry!  WIFV has nominated it every year since we started this initiative.  WIFV is delighted that its regular nominations A NEW LEAF and REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES were also included in this year’s selections. The title on the official press release is Women Rule 2019 National Film RegistryRead the press release here.  The record-setting seven women-centric films included this year are: BEFORE STONEWALL (1984) by Greta Schiller, BOYS DON’T CRY ((1999) by Kimberly Peirce; GIRLFRIENDS (1978) by Claudia Weill, I AM SOMEBODY (1970) by Madeline Anderson, MY NAME IS OONA (1969) by Gunvor Nelson, A NEW LEAF (1971) by Elaine May, REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (2002) directed by Patricia Cardoso.    To see all the films included in 2019 click here.

2018 Selections to the National Film Registry

WIFV is delighted that EVE’S BAYOU written and directed by Kasi Lemmons was included in the National Film Registry.  Thank you for your multi-year support of that film.
EVE’S BAYOU (1997) Set in the 1960’s Louisiana, EVE’S BAYOU tells the story of the death of the Batiste family’s patriarch from the perspective of the youngest daughter, Eve (Jurnee Smolett-Bell). When Eve catches her father (Samuel L. Jackson) cheating on her mother (Lynn Whitfield) at a dinner party, family secrets come to light and relationships crumble. The film is culturally significant for its complex portrayal of an affluent African-American family and was Kasi Lemmons’ critically-acclaimed feature directorial debut. Among seven Independent Spirit Awards nominations, it won for Best First Feature.

To see what other films were included in 2018 click here.

2017 Selections of the National Film Registry

THELONIOUS MONK: Straight, No Chaser (1988) directed by 
Charlotte Zwerin’s and WANDA (1971) written and directed by
Barbara Loden. To see what else was chosen in 2017 click here.

2016 Selections of the National Film Registry

WIFV is thrilled that PARIS IS BURNING directed by Jennie Livingston was finally included in the National Film Registry!  Thank you for your multi-year support of that project.

2015 Selections of the National Film Registry

In 2015, among chosen films with women involvement were HUMORESQUE (1920), story by Fannie Hurst and written by Frances Marion; OUR DAILY BREAD (1934) with scenario by Elizabeth Hill; THE STORY OF MENSTRUATION (1946) narrated by Gloria Blondell; IMITATION OF LIFE (1959) with story by Fannie Hurst and co-written by Eleanore Griffin; PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967) directed by Shirley Clarke; THE INNER WORLD OF APHASIA (1968) written by Naomi Feil; EADWEARD MAYBRIDGE, ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER (1975) co-written and co-directed by Fay Andersen; and SINK OR SWIM (1990) written and directed by Su Friedrich.

2014 Selections of the National Film Registry

WIFV is delighted to announce that MOON BREATH BEAT (1980) directed by Lisze Bechtold, SHOES (1916) directed/produced by Lois Weber and written by Stella Wynne Herron, and UNMASKED (1917) directed/written by Grace Cunard have been included in the 2014 selections by the Library of Congress. Other selected films with women involvement were DOWN ARGENTINE WAY (1940) edited by Barbara McLean; THE DRAGON PAINTER (1919) co-written by Mary McNeil Fenollosa; FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986) co-produced by Jane Vickerilla; THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943) co-written by Nancy Wintner; INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS: STORIES OF THE KINDERTRANSPORT (2000) produced by Cayce Callaway, Alicia Dwyer, and Deborah Oppenheimer; LITTLE BIG MAN (1970) edited by Dede Allen; RIO BRAVO (1959) co-written by Leigh Brackett; ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) co-produced by Dona Holloway; SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) co-produced by Bonnie Curtis and Allison Lyon Segan; and STATE FAIR (1945) adapted by Sonya Levien. Click here for a full list of films added to the registry in 2014.

2013 Selections of the National Film Registry

WIFV is pleased to announce that Martha Graham’s Dance Films have been included in the 2013 selections by the Library of Congress.  Among other chosen films with women involvement were GILDA (1946) produced by Virginia Van Upp; THE HOLE (1962) written by Faith Hubley and produced by Pat Byron; PULP FICTION (1994) executive produced by Stacey Sher and edited by Sally Menke; THE RIGHT STUFF (1983) edited by Lisa Fruchtman; ROGER & ME (1989) associate produced by Wendey Stanzler and edited by Jennifer Beman White; and A VIRTUOUS VAMP (1919) co-written/co-produced by Anita Loos. Click here for a full list of films added to the registry in 2013.

2012 Selections of the National Film Registry

WIFV is honored to announce that A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) directed by Penny Marshall has been included in the 2012 selection by the Library of Congress.  Can’t believe it took nearly four years of campaigning for this one to get in.  So appreciate your support and that of the All-American Girls Baseball League!

Among other chosen films with women involvement we included DIRTY HARRY (1971) written by Rita M. Fink, THE MATRIX (1999) written/directed by Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, ONE SURVIVOR REMEMBERS (1995) directed by Kary Antholis and written by Gerda Weissmann Klein, SAMSARA: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia (1990) directed by Ellen Bruno, and THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (1984) written by Judith Coburn.  Click here for a full list of films added to the registry in 2012.

2011 Selections of the National Film Registry

WIFV is delighted that GROWING UP FEMALE co-written and directed by Julia Reichert and Jim Klein has been included in the 2011 selections by the Library of Congress.   Thank you for your support of this film.  Your support made it happen!

Other women-centric films added to the National Film Registry are FAKE FRUIT FACTORY (1986) by Chick Strand, HESTER STREET (1975) written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver and NORMA RAE (1979).  Click here for a full list of films added to the Registry in 2011.