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Slacker Added to National Film Registry

'Slacker' and works from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image selected

By Marjorie Baumgarten, 8:45AM, Wed. Dec. 19, 2012

Slacker Added to National Film Registry

Richard Linklater's Slacker is among the 25 films added today to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Other films included on this year's list are Breakfast at Tiffany's, Dirty Harry, A Christmas Story, Born Yesterday, The Times of Harvey Milk, Two-Lane Blacktop, and The Matrix.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the librarian of Congress must select 25 films every year that are at least 10 years old and "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant, and then work to ensure that the registry's films are preserved for future generations. Slacker joins Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi, which was similarly honored in 2011.

Also named to the National Film Registry is The Kidnappers Foil, which is the work of Dallas native Melton Barker that has been preserved through the efforts of the locally based Texas Archive of the Moving Image. The Kidnappers Foil is a collection of two-reel films that Barker made throughout the U.S., using local kids as actors as stars in these "home movies." Their discovery and preservation has been a cherished project of TAMI's Caroline Frick. Barker made some 200 versions of the film, although only a few still exist. (See below for a 1936 one shot in Childress.)

Below are the honors as cited by the National Film Registry:

Slacker (1991)

Along with Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Slacker is widely regarded as a touchstone in the blossoming of American independent cinema during the 1990s. A free-floating narrative, the film follows a colorful and engaging assortment of characters in Austin, Texas, throughout the course of a single day. Shot on 16mm film with a budget of $23,000, director Richard Linklater dispensed with a structured plot in favor of interconnected vignettes. This resulted in a film of considerable quirky charm that has influenced a whole generation of independent filmmakers. Slacker was eventually picked up by a major distributor and earned more than $1 million at the box office.

The Kidnappers Foil (1930s-1950s)

For three decades, Dallas native Melton Barker and his company traveled through the southern and central sections of the United States filming local children acting, singing and dancing in two-reel narrative films, all of which Barker titled The Kidnappers Foil. Since home movies were an expensive hobby, he developed a business to provide them. He assembled 50 to 75 would-be Shirley Temples and Jackie Coopers, ages 3 to 12, to act out the melodramatic story: a young girl is kidnapped from her birthday party and eventually rescued by a search party of local kids. Most prints of these films no longer exist, although some have been discovered in vintage movie houses or local historical societies. The Texas Archive of the Moving Image holds a collection of these itinerant films and hosts Internet resources for those who appeared in them as children.

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