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329 West 18th Street Suite #317
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.

Where We Reside 

Looking north 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 down the hallway.

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.

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 seven hundred 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




Nancy Watrous
Executive Director
nancy [at]

Anne Wells
Collections Manager
anne [at]

Becca Hall
Technical Services
becca [at]


Brian Belak
University of Chicago

Laura-Joy Orillo-Dotson
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Board of Directors:

Jim Benoit
Former VP/Executive Producer at BBDO Advertising Agency

Vice President
Romi Crawford
Associate Professor, Visual and Critical Studies and Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute Chicago

Mimi Brody
Curator of Film, Block Cinema/Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

Andrea Gambino
Law Offices of Andrea Gambino

Christine Haddad

Katie Tuten
Owner, The Hideout

Nancy Watrous
Executive Director
Chicago Film Archives

Board of Advisors:

Scott Baker
Graphics Consultant

Leslie Buchbinder
Artistic Director
Pentimenti Productions

Alison Cuddy
Arts and Culture Reporter
WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago Public Media

David Huck
President of David Huck and Associates

Michelle Puetz
Research Fellow
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Amanda Robillard
Director of Prospect Research & Database Management
Carthage College

Scott Smith
Chicago Audio Works

Russ Suniewick

Charles Tepperman
Film Studies Professor
University of Calgary

Larry Zanger
Holland + Knight, LLP