Each year, the National Film Registry designates 25 films to be added to its roster of “historic” films that warrant preservation as cultural touchstones. It’s not all silent films or Hollywood pop entertainment; indeed, one of the most thoughtful — and brief — additions in years past is the Abraham Zapruder film that documents JFK’s assassination.
This year, the films added range from A Cry of the Children and A Cure for Pokeritis (both from 1912) 1994’s Forrest Gump. Among the selectees of interest to me:
• I, An Actress (1977). This movie from gay underground filmmaker George Kuchar (who died earlier this year from prostate cancer) and his twin brother Mike is one of their camp classics. Kuchar was lesser known than contemporaries Andy Warhol and Stan Brakhage, but a real influence on John Waters.
• The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The Jodie Foster thriller was the surprise Oscar winner for best picture and cemented the queer actress as a film powerhouse. Its killer, a gender-dysphoric psychopath, was criticized by some gay rights groups, which led the director, Jonathan Demme, to choose for his next film a pro-gay storyline: The result was Philadelphia.
• El Mariachi (1992). Though there’s nothing especially gay about it, Austin-based filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s Spanish-language actioner, made for $7,000 and intended for direct-to-video release in the Tejano market, became a cult hit and made Rodriguez a hero of Texas filmmakers. It was the basis for his remake, Desperado.
Here’s a complete list, in alphabetical order:
1. Allures (1961)
2. Bambi (1942)
3. The Big Heat (1953)
4. A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
5. Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
6. The Cry of the Children (1912)
7. A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
8. El Mariachi (1992)
9. Faces (1968)
10. Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
11. Forrest Gump (1994)
12. Growing Up Female (1971)
13. Hester Street (1975)
14. I, an Actress (1977)
15. The Iron Horse (1924)
16. The Kid (1921)
17. The Lost Weekend (1945)
18. The Negro Soldier (1944)
19. Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
20. Norma Rae (1979)
21. Porgy and Bess (1959)
22. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
23. Stand and Deliver (1988)
24. Twentieth Century (1934)
25. War of the Worlds (1953)