The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures
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The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures is an ongoing project by the American Film Institute since the late 1960s to catalog all commercially made American motion pictures from the earliest days of the industry to the present. It has been published as both a series of hardcover books and as an online database file.
Each entry in the catalog typically includes the film's title, physical description, production and distribution companies, production and release dates, personal credits, a plot summary, and notes on the film's history. The films are indexed by personal credits, production and distribution companies, year of release, and major and minor plot subjects.
To qualify for the "Feature Films" volumes, a film must have been commercially made by an American company, and given a theatrical release in 35 mm or larger gauge to the general public, with a running time of at least 40 minutes.
The hardcover volumes published so far:
- A, Film Beginnings, 1893–1910 (1995)
- Subtitled "A Work in Progress" due to the scant information available on many films released in this era. Foreign-made films are included if they were released by American companies.
- F1, Feature Films, 1911–1920 (1988)
- F2, Feature Films, 1921–1930 (1971)
- F3, Feature Films, 1931–1940 (1993)
- With this volume, the project began to include plot summaries written especially for the catalog from viewing the movie itself, whenever possible, instead of relying on plot summaries taken from copyright registrations, studio publicity materials, or reviews.
- F4, Feature Films, 1941–1950 (1997)
- F6, Feature Films, 1961–1970 (1976).
- Due to the large number of co-productions between American and foreign companies in the 1960s, and the difficulty of determining any particular film's nationality, this volume includes all feature films released theatrically in the United States in that period. The hardcover edition includes pornographic features, although they have been excluded from the electronic database edition.
The publication of the hardcover volumes was suspended due to budgetary reasons after volume F4 in 1997. Feature films released from 1951 through 1960, and from 1971 through 1973 have been cataloged only in the online database. The project estimates that additional years will be cataloged at six-month intervals.
The project will also eventually catalog short films (beyond 1910) and newsreels.