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"These Amazing Shadows" documentary

Poster for
Poster for "These Amazing Shadows: The Movies that Make America."
Directed, written and produced by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton

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What do the films Casablanca, Blazing Saddles and West Side Story have in common? Besides being popular, they have also been deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and listed on The National Film Registry.

A new documentary film, “These Amazing Shadows,” tells the history and importance of the Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself. The Registry was created thanks to the National Film Preservation Act, passed in 1988. Twenty-five films are chosen to be added each year. The current list of 550 films includes selections from every genre - documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels and silent films.

The Zapruder footage of Kennedy’s assassination can be found there, as can Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Many of those films have deteriorated with age and repeated viewings. The documentary offers a fascinating peek into the processes of restoration and preservation, and even recovery of lost footage excised by The Hayes Code.


Why are movies so much a part of America’s story? What do they tell us about ourselves, what we think, feel and aspire to as a nation? What films do you think belong in our national registry?


Paul Mariano, Co-Director/Writer/Producer of These Amazing Shadows

Kurt Norton, Co-Director/Writer/Producer of These Amazing Shadows

George R. Willeman, Nitrate Vault Manager, Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, Library of Congress

"These Amazing Shadows" will air as part of the PBS series “The Independent Lens”on Sunday, January 1st at 5:00 p.m. on PBS SoCal.