CFA is a winner of the 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
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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.

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.

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] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Amy Belotti
Collections Manager and Digital Archivist
amy [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org

Brian Belak
Processing Archivist and Client Services
brian [at] chicagofilmarchives [dot] org


Shanice Casimiro

Sharita Rush

Emma McGinn
DePaul University

Shahed Dowlatshahi

Board of Directors:

Christine Haddad

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

Kathy Monk
Co-founder Brave New Pictures

Gail Gilbert
President, Cerise Films, Inc.

Larry Shulman
Senior Partner & Managing Director
The Boston Consulting Group

Katie Tuten
Owner, The Hideout

Nancy Watrous
Executive Director
Chicago Film Archives

Board of Advisors:

Javier Ayala
Manager MSG Chicago

Scott Baker
Graphics Consultant

Jim Benoit
Former VP/Executive Producer at BBDO Advertising Agency

Mimi Brody
Festival Programmer, BendFilm

Leslie Buchbinder
Artistic Director
Pentimenti Productions

Alison Cuddy
Associate Artistic Director
Chicago Humanities Festival

Jane Dewey

Andrea Gambino
Law Offices of Andrea Gambino

Rebecca Hall
Operations and Digital Communications Manager
Gene Siskel Film Center

Michelle Puetz
Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

Amanda Robillard
Director of Prospect Research & Database Management
Carthage College

Larry Zanger
Holland + Knight, LLP