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Chicago Film Archives

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Film Archives was awarded $250,000 between 2015 and 2016, including 2 grants in Chicago Commitment and MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions.


2016 • 2 years • Chicago Commitment

Originally established in 2003 to preserve the film collection of the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Film Archives is a regional institution committed to the acquisition, preservation, study, and exhibition of films that reflect the heritage and character of the Midwest. It now holds 27,000 films, audio, and video archives.

With this International Connections Fund Award, the Chicago Film Archive exchanges digitized film footage with an Italian film archive, and commissions two artists from each nation to each produce a silent video piece with footage from the partner country. Musicians from each nation then exchange the four videos, with Italians scoring the U.S.-produced pieces, and vice versa. Completed videos are screened in each nation, with the musical scores performed live, followed by audience discussions with the filmmakers and musicians. Award funds support direct project expenses: travel, accommodations, artist fees, and performance costs. This is the Chicago Film Archives first International Connections Fund award.


2015 • 4 years • MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

Chicago Film Archives, founded in 2001, is a regional film archive dedicated to identifying, collecting, preserving, and providing access to institutional and private films that make up the visual historical record of the Midwest. It operates an online collection portal and hosts public screenings through partnerships with local presenters. Its collection has quadrupled in size since its opening and is now composed of more than 20,000 items offering a diverse cultural record of the Midwest during the 20th century. A MacArthur Award recognizes organizations that have impactful programs, that are well-managed, and that are at an inflection point, where they are likely to grow either in size or influence. Chicago Film Archives will use most of the award to establish a reserve fund; it will use a small amount to invest in the management of its digital assets.
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