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.

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 formWIFV celebrates its 40th Anniversary in late 2019 so we decided to develop a list of 40 women-made and/or women-centric films deserving of inclusion in the National Film Registry.  The full list of 40 is below!  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. To get you started on your 50 nominations we encourage you to consider these women-made films (descriptions provided):

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

A WOMAN’S ERROR (1922) was written and directed by Tressie Souders, and is considered to be the first film directed by a black woman in the United States. The short film was distributed by the Afro-American Film Exhibitors’ Company based in Kansas City, Missouri. Billboard Magazine published an announcement that A WOMAN’S ERROR was the first film produced by a young black woman, and has been labeled by critics as a “picture true to Negro life”. Public records document her as having spent most of her life as a domestic worker.

HE’S ONLY MISSING (1978) is a short documentary that looks into the issues that families had to deal with during the Vietnam War regarding their “missing” loved ones. The strong narrative structure is supported by several interviews with government officials, yet the film is centered on revealing the filmmaker’s deeply personal insights on the issue. The film’s writer/director Robin Smith emphasizes the “accepting the closest thing to reality” struggle that her family had to endure as well as questioning the government’s intentions in the closing minutes of the film. This film brings a highly personal perspective to the Vietnam War era and would be the first such examination in the National Film Registry.

LOSING GROUND (1982) is a film written/directed by Kathleen Collins that centers around the life of a young black couple in New York. Sara (Seret Scott) is a philosophy professor that is admired by her students and Victor (Bill Gunn) is a successful painter. This feature talks about tension in marriage, and shows growth within Sara becoming a more independent person. They decide to rent a house for the summer, and Victor becomes enamored with a local Puerto Rican women he is painting. This causes jealousy and grief within Sara who, in response to this, starts to go out of her comfort zone and participate in a student film. This film ends with Sara feeling like she is on shaky ground, which is a different feeling than her normal steady presence. This film was semi-autobiographical, and won First Prize at the Figueroa International Film Festival in Portugal.

YENTL (1983) is a musical drama directed, co-written, co-produced, and starring Barbra Streisand, making Streisand the first woman to direct, write, produce, and star in a major studio film. In 2013, Streisand was the recipient of the Charlie Chaplin Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as the only female artist to do so. YENTL tells the story of an Ashkenazi Jewish woman in Poland who dresses as a man to study Talmudic law. It received the Academy Award for Best Original Score, and the Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Director, making Streisand the first and only woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. YENTL explores the misogyny in traditional Jewish culture and rebels against Judaism’s forced gender roles.

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993) was Nora Ephron’s breakout film as a director, and it remains to this day an influential romantic comedy. Ephron charms her audience when a recently widowed man’s son calls a radio show in an attempt to find his father a partner. The film was nominated for two Oscars: Best Writing- Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Music- Original Song in 1994. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE is Meg Ryan’s and Tom Hanks’ second on-screen collaboration – out of four total. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, co-written and directed by Ephron, captures her distinctive voice and style, making it the quintessential Ephron romantic comedy.

BOYS DON’T CRY (1999) was the first feature written and directed by Kimberly Peirce based on her short of the same name. With its main theme about finding the courage to be who you truly are, the story is about female born Teena Brandon who adopts the male identity of Brandon Teena, and attempts to find himself and discover love in Nebraska. The film has outstanding performances from the cast including Hilary Swank’s win of the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Chloë Sevigny’s nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. At the Golden Globes, in the same year, Swank won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and Sevigny was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. BOYS DON’T CRY is one of the first films to realistically and respectfully explore transgender identity.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (1999) is a feature length documentary film written and directed by Aviva Kempner about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended ethnic and religious prejudice to become a hero for all Americans. Hank Greenberg’s achievements during the “Golden Age of Baseball” in the thirties and forties rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. As America’s first Jewish baseball star, he helped break down the barriers of discrimination in American sports and society. Greenberg was a beacon of hope to millions of American Jews who faced bigotry during the Depression and World War II. It received 8 nominations, including one for an Emmy Award, and 12 wins, including a Peabody Award.

ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) is a biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. Portrayed by Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovitch, a single mother with few employment prospects, fights against the energy company PG&E for contaminating a California town’s water supply. Roberts won the Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Soderbergh was nominated for best director at the 73rd Academy Awards. The film made famous the real Erin Brockovitch, turning her into a 20th century icon. She continues her activism work in the Erin Brockovich Foundation, which advocates for social welfare and social justice.

LOVE & BASKETBALL (2000) is the feature directorial debut of writer/director of Gina Prince-Bythewood and explores the multi decade relationship between Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps), two highly competitive basketball players. This drama shines a different light on gender norms, particularly in athletics, by showing the different treatments and experiences of male and female athletes. This star-studded cast of primarily African-American actors and actresses is a fan favorite and has a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and won Prince-Bythewood a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

UNDER THE SAME MOON / LA MISMA LUNA (2007) is a Mexican-American drama film directed by Patricia Riggen, written and produced by Ligiah Villalobos. UNDER THE SAME MOON tells the story of Rosario, a single mother who illegally immigrated to the United States in order to provide for her son, Carlos. After his grandmother dies, Carlos leaves his small Mexican town to go find his mother in Los Angeles, California. This film was the recipient of the American Latino Media Arts Award in 2008 for Outstanding Spanish Language Motion Picture and multiple Imagen Foundation Awards in 2009 for Best Film, Best Actor in a Film, Best Actress in a Film, Best Supporting Actor in a Film, and Best Director. This heartwarming tale speaks to the bond between a mother and her child while humanizing immigrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally.

WIFV celebrates its 40th Anniversary in late 2019 so we decided to develop a list of 40 women-made and/or women-centric films deserving of inclusion in the National Film Registry.  The full list of 40 is here!

A WOMAN’S ERROR (1922) written and directed by Tressie Souders
THE CHAMP (1931) written by Frances Marion
THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962) about Helen Keller
THE WOMEN’S HAPPY TIME COMMUNE (1972) directed by Sheila Page
HE’S ONLY MISSING (1978) directed by Robin Smith
OTHELLO (1980) directed by Liz White
LOSING GROUND (1982) written and directed by Kathleen Collins
VICTOR VICTORIA (1982) starring Julie Andrews
YENTL (1983) written, directed, and produced by Barbra Streisand
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (1985) written by Leora Barish and directed by Susan Seidelman
DIRTY DANCING (1987) written by Eleanor Bergstein
CROSSING DELANCEY (1988) written by Susan Sandler and directed by Joan Micklin Silver
MYSTIC PIZZA (1988) written by Amy Holden Jones
FAST FOOD WOMEN (1992) directed by Anne Lewis
JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE IRT (1992) written and directed by Leslie Harris
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993) written and directed by Nora Ephron
MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION (1994) written and directed by Freida Lee Mock
CLUELESS (1995) written and directed by Amy Heckerling
MATILDA (1996) screenplay by Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan
THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1997) written and directed by Cheryl Dunye
SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS (1998) written and directed by Tamara Jenkins
THE PARENT TRAP (1998) directed by Nancy Meyers
BOYS DON’T CRY (1999) written and directed by Kimberly Peirce
BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999) starring Natasha Lyonne
ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) written by Susannah Grant
LOVE AND BASKETBALL (2000) written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (2000) directed by Aviva Kempner
5 GIRLS (2001) written and directed by Maria Finitzo
LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) screenplay by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith
BACK TO GOMBIN (2002) written and directed by Minna Packer
FRIDA (2002) written by Hayden Herrera and directed by Julie Taymor
REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (2002) based on the play by Josefina Lopez and directed by Patricia Cardoso
SISTERS IN CINEMA (2003) written and directed by Yvonne Welbon
D.E.B.S. (2004) written and 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 and directed by Sandrine Bonnaire
UNDER THE SAME MOON / LA MISMA LUNA (2007) written by Ligiah Villalobos and directed by Patricia Riggen
WHIP IT (2009) written by Shauna Cross and directed by Drew Barrymore

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.

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.

Hair Piece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People (1984) is the only other women-made film included. Generally considered the first black woman animator, director Ayoka Chenzira was a key figure in the development of African-American filmmakers in the 1980s through her own films and work to expand opportunities for others.

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


To see what was chosen in 2017 click here.


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.


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.