Library of Congress opens national screening room for historic films – Deadline

Prepare to waste an afternoon or three: The Library of Congress announced today that it has digitized hundreds of hours of film and is making them available for free viewing on its new “National Screening” website. Room ”.

Do you want to watch the home movies of Liza Minnelli’s second birthday party, hosted by Ira Gershwin? Images of Thomas Edison of Coney Island at night, circa 1905? LBJ’s “Daisy” political spot with the little girl and the nuclear weapon (pictured above)? Have to them.

“The national screening room is designed to open up the library’s collections,” said curator Mike Mashon, head of the library’s motion picture section, “making otherwise unavailable films freely accessible to viewers nationwide and globally. whole “.

With over 1.6 million items in its collection, the Library of Congress calls itself “the world’s largest and most comprehensive moving image archive.” Today’s announcement kicks off the first phase of the National Screening Room project, which so far includes 281 titles spanning fiction, non-fiction, news and even family movies spanning the 1890s to 1999.

New content will be added to the screening room every month.

Judy Garland, Liza Minelli
Library of Congress

Today’s announcement coincides with the 120th anniversary of George Gershwin’s birth, with the screening room spotlighting 17 family films shot by George and Ira Gershwin between 1928 and 1939.

“Gershwin’s personal films, long held in the Ira Gershwin Archives in Beverly Hills, contain astonishing images of interest to historians and fans,” said Michael Owen, consulting archivist of the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trusts.

Other features highlighted in today’s announcement include:

  • 33 issues of the “All-American News” (1942-1945), a newsreel specially designed for African-American audiences in the mid-twentieth century;
  • 103 titles from Library’s Paper Prints Collection, including several short films directed by DW Griffith for Biograph Company;
  • Historic and iconic figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley, Frank Sinatra, Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell and Art Carney;
  • Titles entered in the National Film Register because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic significance;
  • A selection of mental health films released in the 1950s.

Check it out here, and plan to get lost for a while.

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