Tuesday, August 3, 2021

‘Lilies of the Field,’ ‘Wattstax,’ ‘Sweetback,’ ‘Cabin in the Sky,’ ‘Freedom Riders,’ ‘Shrek’ Added to National Film Registry (Video)

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Melvin Van Peebles in “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”

*Films starring Sidney Poitier and the voice of Eddie Murphy are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The 1963 film “Lillies of the Field,” adapted by James Poe from the 1962 William Edmund Barrett novel of the same name, starred Poitier as an African American itinerant worker who encounters a group of East German nuns, who believe he has been sent to them by God to build them a new chapel.

Poitier, who became the first Black person to win the Oscar for best actor, said, “‘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!”

“Shrek” – voiced by Murphy, star Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz – was also on the list after becoming a major hit on its 2001 release with $484 million in worldwide grosses, leading to three sequels, a TV holiday special and a Broadway adaption.

The list also includes the 1943 musical “Cabin in the Sky” with an all-Black cast including Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Rex Ingram, and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson; the 2010 documentary “Freedom Riders” about the 1961 Civil Rights movement; the 1973 concert film “Wattstax,” featuring Richard Pryor, Isaac Hayes and the Staples Singers; and 1971’s “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” which saw Melvin Van Peebles producing, directing, writing, scoring starring and financing it with his salary from directing “Watermelon Man.”

Cabin in the Sky (clip)

Freedom Riders documentary (trailer)

Wattstax (full documentary)

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (trailer)

“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. “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.”

This year’s crop include records of nine films directed by women and seven directed by filmmakers of color. Other new National Film Registry entries include “The Dark Knight,” “Grease,” “The Blues Brothers,” “The Hurt Locker,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Man With the Golden Arm. Monday’s selections bring the total to 800.

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