Film Chair Rob Epstein's "Times of Harvey Milk" In National Film Registry


It was announced in December by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington that Film chair and MFA in Film cochair Rob Epstein's 1984 Academy Award-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

"Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage," said Billington. "These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation."

Read Library of Congress press release »

Criteria, Selection, and Preservation

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. The Librarian makes the annual selections to the registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB).

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios, and independent filmmakers.

About The Times of Harvey Milk

Told largely with revealing news clips and archival footage interspersed with personal reminiscences, The Times of Harvey Milk, directed by Rob Epstein, vividly recounts the life of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected city official.

The film, which received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, traces Milk’s ascent from Bay Area businessman to political prominence as city supervisor and his 1978 assassination, which also claimed the life of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.

While illuminating the effect that Milk had on those who knew him, the film also documents the nascent gay rights movement of the 1970s. The film, with its moving and incisive portrait of a city, a culture, and a struggle -- as well as Milk’s indomitable spirit -- resonates profoundly as a historical document of a grassroots movement gaining political power through democratic means.