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The AFI Catalog of Feature Films, also known as the AFI Catalog is an ongoing project by the American Film Institute to catalog all commercially made and theatrically exhibited American motion pictures, from the earliest days of the industry to the present. It began as a series of hardcover books known as The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, and subsequently became an online database exclusively.
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:
- 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. Errors in the print editions have been carried over to the online version, despite published criticisms, and there is no means by which users can offer discussions or corrections.
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 1993 have been cataloged only in the online database. The project estimates that additional years will be cataloged at six-month intervals. Film School students are offered the opportunity to provide plot synopses and original research, but input from other, experienced film researchers is not encouraged.
The project will also eventually catalog short films (beyond 1910) and newsreels.
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