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Iconic films by women and POC immortalized by Library of Congress

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The 1963 classic “Lilies of the Field,” which earned Sidney Poitier the very first Oscar received by an African-American, was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry this week.

His performance is among the 25 added to the Registry this week, which includes a record number of minority actors and directors.

“The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American artforms, our cinematic experience,” said librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a statement. “With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”

In “Lilies,” produced and directed by the late Ralph Nelson, Poitier played an itinerant worker who helps refugee nuns build a church.

“‘Lilies of the Field’ stirs up such great remembrances in our family, from the littlest Poitiers watching a young and agile ‘Papa’ to the oldest — Papa Sidney himself!” said the 93-year-old in a statement with family.

The Bahamian-American actor is joined by a slew of under-represented players in film, such as Asian-American cinema pioneer Wayne Wang for his 1993 adaptation of the eponymous book “The Joy Luck Club,” written by Amy Tan. Documentarian Stanley Nelson Jr. was also honored by having his 2010 film “Freedom Riders,” about the 400 black and white Americans who toured the Deep South in resistance of Jim Crow-era segregation, added to the Library.

Never have so many works by woman directors — nine in all — been added at once, including Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground” (1982), Ida May Park’s 1918 silent film “Bread,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2008).

Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker"
Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker” (2008), directed by Kathryn Bigelow
AP

“My desire in making ‘The Hurt Locker’ was to honor those in uniform serving in dangerous posts abroad, so I have been gratified by the resonance the film has had over the last 10 years,” said Bigelow, who became the first woman to win an Oscar for best director as a result. “For it to be selected by the National Film Registry is both humbling and thrilling.”

Other American classics added for posterity include “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), “Grease” (1978), “Shrek” (2001) and “The Blues Brothers” (1980).

“Having ‘The Blues Brothers’ chosen to be included in the National Film Registry is both a great honor and a delightful surprise,” said director John Landis, whose work on “Animal House” and Michael Jackon’s “Thriller” video had already earned him a place in the Registry. “The film is the result of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s genuine passion for rhythm and blues and our mutual love for these great African American artists and the city of Chicago.”

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will air a marathon of a selection of the 25 films added this year, hosted by Hayden and TCM historian Jaqueline Stewart, beginning Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. EST. Many titles previously added to the National Film Registry are also available to stream at no cost online, on the National Screening Room website.

The full list of 2020’s new additions below:

The Battle of the Century (1927)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Bread (1918)
Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)
Freedom Riders (2010)
Grease (1978)
The Ground (1993-2001)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Illusions (1982)
The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
Lilies of the Field (1963)
Losing Ground (1982)
The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)
Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006)
Outrage (1950)
Shrek (2001)
Suspense (1913)
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
Wattstax (1973)
With Car and Camera Around the World (1929)

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