Every year, the Library of Congress and its National Film Registry select 25 films that showcase the depth and diversity of the American experience. These titles are added to an ever-growing list of films recommended for preservation based on their cultural, aesthetic and historical merits. People are invited to nominate recommended titles, and the final list is curated by the librarian of Congress.
Below are the titles in the registry connected to Latino culture, listed by year of release. Films range from Oscar-nominated productions to documentaries and home movies, in both English and Spanish.
“We have so many stories to tell,” says Mexican American filmmaker Gregory Nava, who has two films listed in the registry: El Norte (1983) and Selena (1997). “As Latino filmmakers, our mission is to bring the heart and soul of our culture to the audience, so that people can see who we really are.”
The complete list of films can be found on the National Film Registry’s website.
Latino films in the National Film Registry
1. The Mark of Zorro (1920)
Only a year after author Johnston McCulley’s Zorro appeared in print for the first time, this enjoyable silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks launched one of pop culture’s most enduring franchises. Added to the registry in 2015.
2. Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection (1920-1930)
With footage of parades, family celebrations and day-to-day activities, the home movies of the Fuentes family in Corpus Christi capture life in Texas’ thriving Mexican American community in the 1920s. Added to the registry in 2017.
3. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
Featuring a memorable tango sequence, this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Spanish author Vicente Blasco Ibáñez cemented Rudolph Valentino’s reputation as a Latin lover. Added to the registry in 1995.
4. The Revenge of Pancho Villa (1930-1936)
The legend of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa is celebrated by the Texas-based Padilla family in this unusual film that compiles various scenes from fictional movies about Villa, connected using bilingual title cards. Added to the registry in 2009.
5. Dracula (1931)
Using the same sets as Tod Browning’s horror classic and shot at night once the English production had wrapped for the day, George Melford’s Spanish version boasts intriguing performances by Lupita Tovar and Carlos Villarías as the bloodthirsty count. Added to the registry in 2015.
6. Verbena Trágica (1939)
Helmed by prolific American director Charles Lamont and starring Fernando Soler as a boxer who is released from jail only to discover that his wife is pregnant with another man’s baby, this gritty melodrama, originally a bilingual production, was never made in English due to its controversial subject matter. Added to the registry in 1996.