The Latinx community has had a tricky and complicated relationship with the film industry in the U.S. since the beginning. If we aren’t being excluded, we are included only on specific terms, like as background characters, stereotypes, comedic relief, or the sidekick, rarely the main characters let alone fully developed ones. And yet, we have decades of beautiful, rich movies made by and for us. This week, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have honored that history, nominating a historic 27 Latinx films to potentially be inducted into the National Film Registry including Stand and Deliver, Frida, and Like Water for Chocolate. This could be a groundbreaking moment, especially considering that despite the Latinx community making up 20 percent of the U.S. population, only 3 percent, or 24, of the Registry’s 850 movies are about Latinx experiences, according to the Library of Congress. The last Latinx movie to be nominated and included was Selena in 2021.
“Given the film industry’s continued exclusion of Latinos, we must make a special effort to ensure that Latino Americans’ contributions to American filmmaking are appropriately celebrated and included in the National Film Registry,” Congressman Castro said in a letter addressed to the Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden. “The continued exclusion of Latinos in the film industry affects Latinos seeking opportunities in the industry and shapes how Latinos are perceived, stereotyped, and misunderstood in American life. This is why the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and I launched a nationwide call earlier this summer for Latino-driven films to nominate to the National Film Registry.”
The National Film Registry is a collection of films that have been chosen for preservation by the United States National Film Preservation Board when they are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and are at least a decade old. Each year, the Registry welcomes up to 50 nominations from the public, which are then curated down to a final selection of 25. As of this year, Latinx films that have already been inducted include Selena, La Bamba, Real Women Have Curves, and West Side Story (1961) among others.
By nominating 27 more films to the registry, Congressman Castro and his supporters hope to advocate for greater Latinx inclusion and representation in Hollywood and the film industry as a whole. The complete list of nominated films was put together based on public outreach and includes: My Family, Like Water for Chocolate, …and the Earth Did Not Swallow Him, Blood in Blood Out, Raising Victor Vargas, Frida, I Like it Like That, Walkout, Mosquita y Mari, The Milagro Beanfield War, Under the Same Moon, American Me, Tortilla Soup, Mi Vida Loca, Instructions Not Included (the highest grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S.), Maria Full of Grace, Girlfight, La Mission, Sleep Dealer, Alamabrita!, Our Latin Thing, Up in Smoke, A Better Life, Gun Hill Road, In the Time of the Butterflies, Roberto Celemente, and The Longoria Affair.
The inclusions into the National Film Registry for 2023 will be announced in December of this year. We can’t wait to see what Latinx films will hopefully be included!