‘Selena’ Added to National Film Registry After Long Campaign

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla

Fans of the 1997 film Selena, on the life and career of slain Tejano star Selena Quintanilla, received some welcomed news Tuesday morning (December 14). The biopic starring Jennifer López and directed by Gregory Nava was one of 25 films added to the National Film Registry (NFR) at the Library of Congress for 2021.

Each year, the NFR chooses 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films” for preservation. This year, support for Selena to be added to the registry came early from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and its chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro, who wrote a letter to NFR asking that it give “careful consideration” to Selena when choosing its new batch of films for 2021.

“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe [Selena] is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress,” wrote Castro. “We trust you will give Selena careful consideration and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021.”

Later, Castro and the Caucus doubled down and nominated not only Selena, but another 25 Latine films they wanted to see get recognized by the preservation board. None of the other 25 nominees were added to the registry, but the NFR also added the 1979 short documentary Chicana directed by Sylvia Morales. The film traces the pre-Columbian history of Chicana and Mexican women.

Selena and Chicana join other Latine films already on the list like 1981’s Zoot Suit, 1983’s El Norte, 1988’s Stand and Deliver, 1999’s Buena Vista Social Club and 2002’s Real Women Have Curves.

Along with Selena’s addition to the NFR, other films that made the cut for the Class of 2021 include Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.