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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

About CFA

How We Started

Chicago Film Archives is a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution established in late 2003 in order to preserve and catalogue over five thousand 16mm films donated by the Chicago Public Library. Director, Nancy Watrous and a few devoted film archivists conceived a plan to create a regional film archive that conserves, promotes and exhibits moving image materials that reflect Chicago and Midwest history and culture.

Building Legacies

As part of the ongoing expansion of its holdings, CFA has begun collecting amateur and home movies from people in Chicago and other regions of Illinois. This is a program that will shed light on a sector of filmmaking that can have great impact on perspectives of our historical and social selves as Midwesterners. To underscore this initiative, each year CFA sponsors the Chicago branch of the annual Home Movie Day, an international program that encourages the preservation and exhibition of home movies. In addition, CFA continues to acquire professional films that reflect our region’s history and culture as well as films that are artistic expressions of our local filmmakers. We are bringing acknowledgement and discussion to the works of our local filmmakers while tracing the impact they have had on our local, national and international communities.

Where We Reside

Looking east from CFA’s office

In May of 2004, the CFA moved to its permanent home at 329 West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The films and tapes reside in a climate-controlled vault on the third floor and we work in an office upstairs on the sixth.

Preserving Our Past

CFA is continually applying for grants and other means of funding for the restoration and preservation of films that are central to our mission. Restoration and preservation of films typically involves removing scratches, dirt and warping from original film materials and creating a new negative and preservation print. Usually a digital transfer is created as well in order to allow the film to be handled and accessible to many people.

So Everyone Can See

Thanks to CFA’s Collections Portal, audiences can now stream over 1500 films from CFA’s collections. CFA is also committed to the programming of our films in ways that are fresh, provocative and have meaning for audiences in a variety of communities. We are intent on developing partnerships that result in expanded audiences and new dialogue.

Our Support Comes From You

CFA relies on the ongoing support of the Chicago and Illinois communities for its continued success. The Archive’s committed base of staffers and board members has been essential to securing the collections, preserving and showcasing the films, and growing the organization. Several federal, state and city agencies as well as local and national businesses have donated funding to support our operations at Chicago Film Archives. Please don’t hesitate to call us to become part of this important and growing Midwest institution.

To find out how you can make a donation or how to become a sponsor of CFA, please visit our Support/Donate page, or contact us at (312) 243-1808 or

Intern Program

CFA hosts approximately two interns per semester (Spring, Summer, Fall). Our interns have had the opportunity to learn film inspection, digitization, cataloging and database standards, curation, and a variety of other aspects of working in an archive. Interns are a valuable part of CFA’s operations, and we will do our best to match your interests to our available work as much as possible. If you are interested in interning with us, please email with a resume.




Nancy Watrous
Executive Director
nancy [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Yasmin Desouki
Collections Manager
yasmin [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Julia Lacher
Director of Client Services and Office Operations
julia [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Olivia Babler
Director of Film Transfer Operations
olivia [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Justin Dean
Transfer Technician
justin [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Jiayi Chen
Processing Archivist
jiayi [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Summer 2021 Interns:

Tiya Bolton
Adrian Velazquez

Board of Directors:

Kathy Monk
Co-Founder, Brave New Pictures

David Zerlin
Assoc. Partner/Dir. of User Experience Architecture, VSA Partners

Larry Shulman
Senior Partner & Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group

Amy Beste
Director of Public Programs and Senior Lecturer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dept’s of Film, Video, New Media & Animation; Art History, Theory & Criticism; Art & Technology Studies; Sound

Andréa Gambino

Ted Hardin
Associate Professor, Columbia College / Co-Owner, Long Distance Productions

Dan Lundmark
Retired Executive Producer, Film Production

Judith Paine McBrien
Director, The Archimedia Workshop

Mary Valentin
Food Stylist

Nancy Watrous
Executive Director, Chicago Film Archives

Board of Advisors:

Scott Baker
Graphics Consultant

Mary Ida Bonadio
Marketing Director

Leslie Buchbinder
Artistic Director, Pentimenti Productions

Alison Cuddy
Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Humanities Festival

Rebecca Hall
Co-Founder, Chicago Film Society

Mary Latimer
Human Resources Executive Leadership, VSA Partners, Inc.

Joe Swanberg

Katie Tuten
Owner, The Hideout

Larry Zanger
Former Partner, Holland + Knight, LLP