MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions

Chicago Film Archives

Chicago, Illinois | 2016 Award Recipient

Keeping Midwest history alive through film preservation

About the Chicago Film Archives

Chicago Film Archives is a regional film archive dedicated to identifying, collecting, preserving, and providing access to institutional and private films that make up a visual historical record of the 20th century in the Midwest.

Conservative vice lords join protest march, from Lord Thing, 1970, DeWitt Beall Collection

Chicago Film Archives has built a collection of more than 25,000 items since its founding in 2003. It operates an online collection portal and hosts public screenings through partnerships with local presenters.

Chicago Film Archives demonstrates a strong commitment to the preservation of and access to a unique historical record of the Chicago and Midwest region. The films are not limited to any particular aesthetic, political agenda, or category of film. Its collections are broad, depicting life as it was and is lived.

The organization successfully leverages its connections to promote the use of its collection by historians, journalists, scholars, and cultural analysts. It ensures that its collection is available as a medium for artists as well. For instance, Pentimenti Films recently licensed footage from Chicago Film Archives for its film Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists about the representational art movement that emerged from the city in the late 1960s.

Chicago Film Archives will use its $200,000 MacArthur Award to establish a reserve fund and invest in the long-term management of its digital assets.

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