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Iconic 'Selena' biopic added to National Film Registry this year

The film, which follows the rise to fame and tragic death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, was one of 25 films added to the registry.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The Library of Congress announced Tuesday the 25 films it was adding to its National Film Registry, as it does every year. Among those films was "Selena," the biopic following the iconic Tejana singer's rise to fame and tragic early death. 

Each film is selected for its cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation's heritage, the Library of Congress said in a release. This year's selections are reportedly one of the "most diverse" classes to enter the registry. 

Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez was played by Jennifer Lopez, giving the Puerto Rican star her first major movie role. The 1997 film was directed by Gergory Nava and also featured Edward James Olmos, who played Selena's father and band manager, Abraham Quintanilla.

Olmos told the Library of Congress the film shares a universal story of what it means to live as a Mexican-American family along the Texas border with Mexico.

The life and story of Selena has lived long after her early death, kept alive by fans and new generations learning of her music and cultural impact. The singer died at the age of 23 due to a dispute between her and her fan club manager.

The film was added to the registry after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led by San Antonia native U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, nominated it in January. The caucus sent the National Film Preservation Board a letter nominating the film, but also asking the registry increase its number of films inducted that represent Latino American experiences.

"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," the January letter read.

As of 2020, the Library of Congress said it had "over 50" films directed by persons of color in the registry and "over 70" films directed or co-directed by women from the more than 800 films in the registry.

On Tuesday, after it was announced that "Selena" was one of the 25 films selected this year, Castro tweeted that he was "glad" to see the film added to the registry.

"For too long Latino and Latina filmmakers' contribution to the industry have been overlooked and underrepresented," Castro said. "Glad to see Gregory Nava's biopic preserved in American history."

Other movies added to the registry this year include "Wall-E," "Return of the Jedi" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

Check out the full list of films added to the National Film Registry this year.

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