Each year, the Library of Congress preserves twenty-five films to the National Film Registry that showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage, and we are honored to announce Women Make Movies’ release CHICANA (dir. Sylvia Morales) and THE WATERMELON WOMAN (dir. Cheryl Dunye), which was made with the support of our Production Assistance Program, have been selected to the 2021 registry!
The 2021 selections represent one of the most diverse class of films to enter the registry, with films dating back nearly 120 years and representing the work of Hollywood studios, independent filmmakers, documentarians, women directors, filmmakers of color, students, and the silent era of film.
CHICANA is a short film that uses a collage of artwork, still photographs, and documentary footage to depict the struggle of Chicana women over the long course of history and the work they have put into gaining basic rights and fair wages. The Library of Congress shares that the film, and Morales’ subsequent career, grew out of her youthful desire to see people like her on screen. “I loved the movies, and so I decided early on, when I was a teenager, that I was going to make some movies and put some Mexicans in it,” she said. “I think it’s the struggle that’s important, and that’s what ‘Chicana’ is. It’s the struggle to be whoever you are.”
Morales shared with WMM, “CHICANA was bound to be made. I’m lucky I got to be the one. With Ana Nieto Gomez’s foundational writing, Carmen Moreno’s moving original music score and Carmen Zapata’s narration dripping with gravitas — we added to the history of Mestizas/Mexican-Americans/Chicanas. I’m honored.” CHICANA is available to purchase and book for screenings.
THE WATERMELON WOMAN, which was sponsored by our Production Assistance Program, is Cheryl Dunye’s first feature film and the first feature film ever directed by a Black lesbian. In the film, Dunye explores the erasure of Black women from film history, as it dovetails with her own exploration of her identity as a Black lesbian seeking love and validation.
The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after conferring with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board and a cadre of Library specialists. Also considered were more than 6,100 titles nominated by the public. It is a great honor to have two WMM-supported films named to the registry this year.
Turner Class Movies (TCM) will host a television special Friday, December 17 at 8pm ET to screen a selection of motion pictures named to the registry this year, including CHICANA. Read more about this year’s inductees here.