Every year, aficionados eagerly await the reveal of the films being inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Five years ago, the Registry added the first Chicano film ever made, 1976’s Please Don’t Bury Me Alive. But for the most part, we haven’t seen as many Latino films make the cut.
Thankfully, this year, the Library deemed two features highlighting the Mexican-American experience. The first is Patricia Cardoso’s 2002 indie feature, Real Women Have Curves. The film follows a first-generation Mexican-American (played by America Ferrera) torn over moving away for college. Cardoso’s feature is one of several female-directed movies chosen for the Registry; Elaine May’s 1971 film, A New Leaf, and Claudia Weill’s 1978 movie, Girlfriends, are also included.
Just as interesting is the addition of Luis Valdez’s little-seen 1981 musical, Zoot Suit. Valdez, considered the father of Chicano theater, adapted his own play, which tells the story of the famed zoot suit riots and Sleepy Lagoon murder case that ensnared Los Angeles residents in the 1940s. Starring Edward James Olmos and Tyne Daley, Zoot Suit was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1982.
Other inductees into the National Film Registry this year include Kevin Smith’s 1994 slacker comedy Clerks, the 2003 documentary Fog of War and the classic Disney weepie Old Yeller.
These two movies won’t immediately make the Registry more representative of our communities, but they are important additions. And it’s seemingly something the Library is paying more and more attention to. “With this year’s National Film Registry selections, [Librarian of Congress] Dr. [Carla] Hayden recognizes the importance of amplifying cinematic voices and stories that have been marginalized for far too long,” said Jacqueline Stewart, chair of the National Film Preservation Board’s task force on diversity, equity and inclusion. “I look forward to continuing research and dialogue with the Librarian, board members, film communities and the American public to ensure that the registry reflects the full spectrum of our society.”
You can see the full list of new inductees to the National Film Registry here.