Roll out the red carpet at the National Archives!

Director John Ford on the set of his movie, December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)
Director John Ford on the set of his movie December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)

Today we have a special guest post from Tom Nastick, public programs producer at the National Archives.

This week, from February 23 to 27, we’ll be presenting the seventh annual free screenings of Oscar®-nominated documentaries and Short Subjects in the William G. McGowan Theater. Our friends at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will once again be sending us the very best Feature Documentaries and Documentary Short Subjects from the past year so that we can share them, for free, with our audience.

But you don’t have to wait until this annual event to see Oscar-nominated docs at the National Archives. Within our vast motion picture holdings are several documentaries that have been honored by the Academy.

During the Second World War, several films now in our holdings were presented the Oscar for best Documentary including Prelude to War (1942) and episode one of Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” series of orientation films for service personnel.

We also have Oscar-winning coproductions The Fighting Lady (1944), a joint production of the U.S. Navy and 20th Century Fox about the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and The True Glory (1945), a sweeping documentary on the Allied invasion of Europe co-produced by the U.S. Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information.

The Documentary Short Subject category is also represented in our holdings. Notable examples from the WWII era include December 7th (1942), directed by legendary filmmaker John Ford, and With the Marines at Tarawa (1944), which features exciting, authentic battle footage recorded by Marine Corps cameramen.

In the postwar era and into the 1960s, the United States Information Agency produced several Oscar-nominated films and was awarded the Best Documentary Short Subject statuette for Charles Guggenheim’s Nine From Little Rock (1964) and Czechoslovakia 1968 (1969).

You can see the Oscar statuette Guggenheim won for Nine from Little Rock on display outside the William G. McGowan Theater, and you can research the National Archives motion picture holdings at the National Archives II at College Park, Maryland, as well as at our regional archives and Presidential libraries.

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