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A lost film is a feature or short film that is no longer known to exist in any studio archives, private collections, or public archives, such as the U.S. Library of Congress. 
The phrase "lost film" can also be used in a literal sense for instances where footage of deleted scenes , unedited, and alternative versions of feature films are known to have been created, but can no longer be accounted for. Sometimes, a copy of a lost film is rediscovered. A film that has not been recovered in its entirety is called a partially lost film. For example, the 1922 film Sherlock Holmes was eventually discovered, but some of the footage is still missing.
Most lost films are from the silent film and early talkie era, from about 1894 to 1930.  Martin Scorsese 's Film Foundation estimates that more than 90% of American films made before 1929 are lost  and the Library of Congress estimates that 75% of all silent films are lost forever.