Library of Congress names ILLUSIONS and THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS to National Film Registry 

Each year, the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry preserves twenty-five films that showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage, and this year, we are honored to announce Women Make Movies’ films ILLUSIONS (Dir. Julie Dash) and THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS (Dir. Lourdes Portillo) have been selected to the 2020 Registry. Both films will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act for their cultural, historicalor aesthetic significance. This year’s selections include nine films directed by women and seven films directed by filmmakers of color.  

WMM Executive Director Debra Zimmerman shares, “We are encouraged by the number of films made by women and filmmakers of color named to the National Film Registry this year, and we are delighted that two of the nine women are made by WMM filmmakers. Now more than ever, the preservation of stories that reflect the diversity of our culture is incredibly important. 

ILLUSIONS (1982) is a short film about a young African American Woman passing for a white executive assistant in 1940s Hollywood. Director Julie Dash says that she is “very pleased a film that I made almost thirty-eight years ago still has resonance with contemporary viewers.”  

ILLUSIONS will be preserved with the support of the NYWIFT Preservation Fund. Listen to Jillian Borders (UCLA), Michelle Materre (The New School), and Katie Chambers (NYWIFT Engagement Director) discuss the preservation process and historical significance of the film in a NYWIFT-hosted event here.  

In THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS (1994), Director Lourdes Portillo travels to Mexico to discover family secrets following a phone call informing her of the mysterious death of her wealthy uncle. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody describes Portillo’s reconstruction of her family’s history as a “small-scale masterwork,” creating something like “a picture-track, equivalent to a soundtrack, that has a similarly polyphonic complexity and that, in counterpoint with the interviews, the music, and Portillo’s own narration, renders the experience of watching ‘THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS’ as thrilling and as psychologically complex as a great scripted drama.” 

Both films are available for institutions and individuals to purchase and to book for virtual screenings. Read more about this year’s inductees here.  

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