‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘The Fog of War’ by Columbia Filmmakers Added to National Film Registry
BY Felix van Kann, February 13, 2020
Two films by Columbia filmmakers have recently been added to the prestigious National Film Registry. Both Boys Don't Cry, directed and co-written by alumna Kimberly Peirce ’96 and co-written by associate professor Andy Bienen ’96, and The Fog of War, executive produced by associate professor Jack Lechner, were amongst the 25 films the National Film Registry selected in 2019 showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.
On February 14, Columbia's Lenfest Center for the Arts will also present a screening of Peirce’s and Bienen’s groundbreaking 1999 film, Boys Don’t Cry, that landed Hilary Swank a Best Actress Academy Award. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and supporting actress, Chloë Sevigny.
Bienen stated: "I don’t think anyone who worked on Boys Don’t Cry ever imagined that one day it would be recognized by the Library of Congress. I certainly didn’t. This is a moment of profound acknowledgement and affirmation, not only of the film, but of the life that Brandon Teena lived. I’m very proud."
Based on a true story, Boys Don't Cry was adapted from the life of Brandon Teena, who navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska. A true story about hope, fear, and the courage it takes to be yourself, Boys Don't Cry is critically acclaimed and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Hillary Swank as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Chloë Sevigny.
Still from The Fog of War, executive produced by associate professor Jack Lechner
Regarding The Fog of War’s selection, Lechner commented: "Looking at the National Film Registry list, I realize that almost every movie I regularly teach at Columbia - from Some Like It Hot to Die Hard to Groundhog Day to Casablanca to Killer of Sheep - is on the Registry. It's gratifying to realize that The Fog of War is now in that company. It's also wonderful to see how many of the films in the Registry have a Columbia Film connection. Boys Don't Cry originated in a Columbia student film by director Kimberly Peirce, and is co-written by alum and professor Andy Bienen. Adam Davidson's Lunch Date is a Columbia student film. Amadeus and Brokeback Mountain were produced by longtime professor Michael Hausman. Professor Ira Deutchman distributed Hoop Dreams. Wanda was shot and edited by longtime professor Nicholas Proferes. And there's probably even more I don't know about."
The Fog of War is a 2003 American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara illustrating his observations of the nature of modern warfare. The film was directed by Errol Morris and derives its title from the military concept of the "fog of war" depicting the difficulty of making decisions in the midst of conflict. The film screened at the Cannes Film Festival before going on to win the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature as well as the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2003.
Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the National Film Preservation Board works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America's film heritage..