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Our Mission

Chicago Film Archives is a regional film archive dedicated to identifying, collecting, preserving and providing access to films that represent the Midwest. Our purpose is to serve institutions and filmmakers of this region and elsewhere by establishing a repository for institutional and private film collections; serve a variety of cultural, academic and artistic communities by making the films available locally, nationally, and internationally for exhibition, research, and production; and serve our culture by restoring and preserving films that are rare or not in existence elsewhere.

Our history

Chicago Film Archives is a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution established in late 2003, originally to preserve and catalog over five thousand 16mm films donated by the Chicago Public Library. Inspired by this project, CFA founder 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.

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Building Legacies

CFA continually acquires amateur and professional film collections that bring light to our region’s history and culture. These films include home movies that intrinsically deepen our understanding of our historical and social selves as Midwesterners. CFA’s collections also reveal and display the extraordinary and often unheralded talent of filmmakers from Chicago and the Midwest. We work hard every day to bring focus, acknowledgment, and discussion to these films and their makers, while tracing the impact they have had on our local, national and international communities.

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Where We Reside

In May of 2004, the CFA moved to its permanent home at 329 West 18th Street at the edge of the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods 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.


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