“Selena” is a can’t-miss movie. Now, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants to add it to the American film canon officially.
Writing on behalf of his colleagues, caucus chair U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Jan. 1 recommended the 1997 biopic of Tejano music superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (starring Jennifer Lopez) for inclusion in the National Film Registry. The nomination came in a letter addressed to Carla Hayden (the librarian of Congress) and the members of the National Film Preservation Board.
The film “touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections to two cultures and languages,” wrote Castro, a Democrat representing Texas’ 20th district, which includes the western part of San Antonio. “The film has become a beloved icon of Latino culture and has found widespread mainstream success, proving once and for all that Latino stories are American stories.”
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Nominating “Selena” is part of a broader push by the caucus to “ensure that the experiences of American Latinos are well represented in the films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress,” according to the letter.
Each year, the library’s National Film Registry adds 25 films to its canon, with the stated purpose of “showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.”
“Given the film industry’s continued exclusion of Latinos, we must therefore make a special effort to ensure that Latino Americans’ accomplishments in the film industry are appropriately celebrated and included in the National Film Registry,” Castro wrote.
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The caucus also praised the registry’s previous inclusion of Latino-focused films like “Salt of the Earth,” “I Am Joaquin,” “Zoot Suit,” “El Norte,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Real Women Have Curves.” The caucus urged the registry to highlight such movies, adding that the inclusion of “Selena” would be a “next step.”
“We trust you will give ‘Selena’ careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021,” Castro wrote. “We also expect to identify other films which feature the American Latino experience and urge you to devote careful consideration to Latino films when considering films for the registry as well.”
The National Film Registry last month announced its 2020 additions, ranging from silent pictures like Charlie Chaplin’s “Kid Auto Races at Venice” to time-tested classics like “Grease” and “A Clockwork Orange” to modern blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” and “Shrek.” The 2020 class notably included several landmark films from female filmmakers, like Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” and directors of color, like Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club.”
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“Selena” holds a special place in the hearts of Texans. Director Gregory Nava’s film tells the story of the singer’s rocket to fame in the 1990s as she released hit songs like “Como la Flor,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Dreaming of You.” On the cusp of crossover success, Quintanilla-Pérez was shot to death in 1995 by Yolanda Saldívar.
The 1997 film helped make a household name of Lopez.
Last month, Netflix debuted the first season of “Selena: The Series,” coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the star’s death. Christian Serratos plays Quintanilla-Pérez in the show, which was produced in collaboration with the late star’s family.
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