American Film Institute Catalog

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AFI Catalog is the comprehensive national filmography documenting American films from 1893-1972,  with additional "stub records," usually several hundred for each year, for selected major films from  1972 to the present.  The Catalog includes foreign films co-financed by American companies, or released in the U.S. for the years 1893-1910 and 1961-70.  About 85% of the films produced since 1931 have credits and synopses verified during viewing, indicated by the "viewed film icon" next to the film's title.

The AFI Catalog includes only those films that are 40 minutes or longer in duration; in addition, over 17,000 short films (those less than 40 minutes) have also been included from the first era of filmmaking, 1893-1910.

The goal of the Catalog  is to delineate America's film history. Since 1983, the Catalog includes only contemporary credits and plot information in the main body of the entries, and relegates 'modern' information (i.e. information obtained from sources not contemporary to the era being researched) to textual notes. This is to provide an accurate historical record for each American film, similar to national book bibliographies. For the last twenty years it has been a priority of the project to present only that information which can be documented in contemporary historical records. For motion pictures, these historical records consist of the films themselves and contemporary written sources.  In this regard, each decade of filmmaking has had its own characteristics.


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Dates covered

1893 to present.

Updating frequency

Twice yearly.

Type of coverage

Filmographic textual information, including plot summaries, ranging in size from approximately 300 to 1,100 words, depending on the length of the film. The second area of textual information, the note, provides commentary on disputed credits, location shooting, budgets, literary sources, pertinent historic relevance, censorship, alternate titles, sequels and remakes. Source citations to contemporary periodicals are input in each record; increased efforts have been made since 1996 to add citations for reviews from trade publications, newspapers, and other periodicals.

Print counterpart or
related resources

The American Film Institute catalog of motion pictures produced in the United States. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1971-1986.

Producer/content provider

The American Film Institute

Vendor/electronic presentation provider


Core Subject(s)

Supplementary Subject(s)