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Two influential films for Latinos are inducted into the National Film Registry

Actor José Ferrer was the first Latino to win an Academy Award for best actor in the 1950 movie “Cyrano de Bergerac,” one of 25 influential films on the 2022 list.
Mala Powers and Jose Ferrer in "Cyrano de Bergerac," 1950.
Mala Powers and José Ferrer in "Cyrano de Bergerac," 1950.Library of Congress

The list of Latino films inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress grew a bit longer Wednesday.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” and “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” are among the 25 influential films added to the registry this year for preservation by the National Film Preservation Board.

Every year the board selects 25 films to add to the registry based on its historical, cultural and aesthetic contributions.

The 1950 version of “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring José Ferrer was the first American film adaptation of the French play of the same name from the late 1800s.

His performance in the film made Ferrer the first Latino to win an Academy Award for best actor in 1951.

The Puerto Rican actor had previously performed the same role on Broadway, earning him a Tony Award for best actor in 1946.

“The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” released in 1982, is a film based on a folkloric figure from a popular early 1900s Mexican corrido. While the corrido, or ballad, has been richly embellished over time, it is based on actual events.

The movie adaptation, starring Edward James Olmos as Gregorio Cortez, is considered one of the key feature films from the burgeoning 1980s Chicano film movement.

It tells the story of Cortez, a Mexican American farmer who in 1901 was falsely accused of stealing a horse. After Cortez kills the sheriff who tried to arrest him, he escapes lynching before being captured and sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” and “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez”join a growing list of movies included in the registry that highlight the contributions and history of Latinos in the United States.

The 1997 biopic "Selena," based on the inspirational and tragic story of late Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, was inducted into the National Film Registry last year after leaders from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus nominated 25 Latino films for inclusion in the registry.

The initiative was led by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who chaired the caucus at the time, as part of a growing effort to fight Latino underrepresentation in Hollywood.

Both "Selena" and “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” were among the 25 Latino films the Congressional Hispanic Caucus nominated last year.

“Despite Latinos being underrepresented for generations in Hollywood, our community has left a mark on our national film culture,” Castro said in a statement Wednesday. “The National Film Registry, the Library of Congress has taken a critical step to preserve the work of Latino actors and industry creatives."

There are now 24 Latino films on the National Film Registry, according to the Library of Congress. That's less than 3% of all the 850 movies preserved at the registry.

Latinos currently represent close to 20% of the nation's population.

Here's the full list of Latino films at the National Film Registry:

  • "Ballad of Gregorio Cortez" (1982)
  • "Buena Vista Social Club" (1999)
  • "Chicana" (1979)
  • "Chulas Fronteras" (1976)
  • "Cyrano de Bergerac" (1950)
  • "Devil Never Sleeps" (1994)
  • "Dracula" (Spanish language version) 1931
  • "El Mariachi" (1992)
  • "El Norte" (1983)
  • "Fuentes Family Home Movies" (1920s-1930s)
  • "I Am Joaquin" (1969)
  • "La Bamba" (1987)
  • "Modesta" (1956)
  • "La Perla" (1948)
  • "Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!" (1976)
  • "Real Women Have Curves" (2002)
  • "Requiem-29" (1970)
  • "Revenge of Pancho Villa" (1930-36)
  • "Salt of the Earth" (1954),
  • "Selena" (1997)
  • "Stand and Deliver" (1988)
  • "Verbena Tragica" (1939)
  • "West Side Story" (1961)
  • "Zoot Suit" (1981)