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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

August 30, 2023

NFPF Funds CFA Preservation of Four Films by Bill Stamets

Rudy Lozano


CFA is thrilled to have been awarded a Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to photochemically preserve four films by Super-8 filmmaker Bill Stamets:

  • Harold is Gone (1987), an examination of public mourning and political ritual shot in the days following the sudden death of Chicago’s Mayor Harold Washington on November 25, 1987.
  • Novo Dextro: Purity and Danger (1982), an experimental documentary depicting an American Nazi Party rally held in Lincoln Park during Chicago’s 1982 Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade.
  • Rock Sox Disco Sux (1979), an ethnography of Chicago’s notorious “Disco Demolition Night,” a promotional stunt-turned-riot held at a White Sox game on July 12, 1979.
  • [Rudy Lozano] (1983), loosely-constructed footage capturing the southwest side of Chicago’s response to the murder of Mexican-American labor rights activist Rudy Lozano.

These Super-8 films reflect Stamets’ deep investment in chronicling civic life in Chicago, exposing how Chicagoans have expressed both love and hate through spectacle and collective action. Chosen for their distinct small gauge aesthetic and their historical significance, this group of films encapsulates CFA’s mission to preserve Midwestern history and culture; these depictions of life in Chicago in the 1970s and ‘80s are warts-and-all portraits of our frequently polarized city. You can watch Rock Sox Disco Sux and [Rudy Lozano] on our website, though the audio for [Rudy Lozano] has not yet been digitized. Video transfers of Harold is Gone and Novo Dextro: Purity and Danger are available to stream via Media Burn Independent Video Archive.

Chicago-based photojournalist, critic and filmmaker Bill Stamets has been recording what he describes as “a miscellany of civic occasions where Americans make sense of power” since 1976. He has been an especially avid documenter of Chicago’s many protests, parades, and political campaigns—both mainstream and marginal. Stamets began donating his films to Chicago Film Archives in 2014; our Bill Stamets Collection has since grown to nearly 350 films, almost all of which are one-of-a-kind Super-8 reversal originals with magnetic stripe soundtracks.

Working from the original mag-striped reversal workprints, we will collaborate with Colorlab to photochemically preserve these four titles to 16mm polyester film with optical soundtracks, making them significantly more accessible for exhibition and research.

Since 2005, CFA has photochemically preserved more than 40 films from our collection thanks to the NFPF, a nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. You can read more about CFA’s previous NFPF-funded projects on our Conservation Projects page. Many thanks to the NFPF for their continued support in preserving these films for the future!

September 27, 2022

CFA preserves Morrison-Shearer dance films

Salute to Old Friends: Agnes de Mille (1956)CFA is extremely happy to announce that we are the recipients of a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to photochemically preserve eight solo dances from the Morrison-Shearer Foundation collection. These dances were created and performed by choreographer/dancer Sybil Shearer and filmed by her artistic partner, photographer Helen Morrison. These films transcend a mere recording of choreography and performance: they present an elevation and synthesis of each woman’s artistic gift, born out of a strong and confident mutual devotion. CFA believes that their collaborative efforts have produced works that are unique among the genre of dance films. Learn more about the Morrison-Shearer Collection and view the solo dances here.

June 30, 2022

2022 CFA Media Mixer!



On June 30th, 2022, CFA will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its annual Media Mixer event with the premiere of three new Media Mixer pieces at Constellation.


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December 14, 2021

THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON Selected for the National Film Registry

Murder of Fred Hampton


Chicago Film Archives is proud to announce that the National Film Preservation Board has selected The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971) for the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Launched in 1989 to showcase and promote the preservation of America’s film legacies, the National Film Preservation Board selects 25 films from a pool of thousands of titles submitted by the public each year. The chosen films represent works of enduring importance to the American people, and are selected for their cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance. Read More »

June 21, 2021

CFA Receives NFPF Grant to Preserve Three 35mm Films

Peoria Community Fund













CFA is happy to to share that we have been awarded a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to photochemically preserve three 35mm nitrate films from our Charles E. Krosse Collection. Read More »

February 2, 2021

Uncovering New Stories Through the NEH CARES Grant

Palazzolo Collection

In June 2020, CFA received generous support from a CARES grant, which was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and designed to help us delve into our collections and make more stories and films accessible to the public. During this exceptionally difficult time (on so many levels), we were tasked with finding new ways to work with our collections amidst lockdowns, staggered schedules, and Zoom meet-ups due to COVID-19. The grant supported our ability to focus on the labor-intensive work of stabilizing, digitizing, and cataloguing portions of our large audiovisual collections, which contain precious footage documenting Midwestern culture and history. With help from the NEH, we were able to dedicate much-needed time to the William Franklin Grisham Collection, which documents the history of the early film industry in Chicago; the Frank Koza Collection of mid-century newsreels; the Tom Palazzolo Collection, which captures the outermost fringes of life in Chicago; and the Rhodes Patterson Collection of design, architecture and industry films. Read More »

January 26, 2021

CFA Receives Grant to Preserve 2 Films by Maurice Bailen

CFA is happy to announce that we have received a Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation for the photochemical preservation of two films from the Maurice Bailen Collection, The City (ca. 1961) and Confrontation (ca. 1968). Both films are original 16mm work prints, and no other copies are known to exist. Maurice Bailen (1902-1980) was a Chicago-based filmmaker who is well-regarded and yet his filmic output is largely underrepresented; he remains most known for his film The Great Depression (ca. 1934), made with the Chicago chapter of the Workers Film and Photo League. Bailen’s films were devoted to capturing pivotal social movements in American history through a uniquely experimental aesthetic that was part documentary, part satire and political commentary. To learn more about his films, please visit our finding aid here.

The City
Still from The City (ca. 1961)

Still from Confrontation (ca. 1968)
August 3, 2020

‘Lost’ Film From 1923 Uncovered in CFA Collection

In late June 2020, while weathering the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago Film Archives’ staff rediscovered a 35mm domestic distribution print of ‘lost’ silent feature film, The First Degree, within our collections. Hiding in plain sight among agricultural and sponsored films that came out of Peoria, Illinois, was a Universal production that likely hadn’t been exhibited in 97 years. With only 25% of American silent feature films surviving, CFA is thrilled to have uncovered this little known feature, thereby widening our understanding of an important era in cinematic history.

Read More »

June 26, 2020

CFA Receives NEH CARES Relief Grant

Palazzolo reels

Chicago Film Archives is proud to announce that it is the recipient of a CARES grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The award, in the amount of $54,743, will be used to uncover the Midwest histories hidden within four varied and distinctive collections in our care. According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NEH received “more than 2300 eligible applications from cultural organizations, for projects between June and December, 2020. Approximately 14 percent of the applicants were funded.”

This support will allow CFA to focus on the labor-intensive task of stabilizing, cataloging and digitizing portions of four large audiovisual collections that document Midwestern culture and history: the Tom Palazzolo Collection which captures the outermost fringes of life in Chicago; the Frank Koza Collection of newsreels; the Rhodes Patterson Collection of design, architecture and industry films; and the William Franklin Grisham Collection, which documents early African-American filmmaking in Chicago and elsewhere. Read More »

June 4, 2020


One of the earliest collections that arrived at CFA’s door was from William Cottle and Mike Gray of The Film Group. The work of Don Klugman (Nightsong), JoAnn Elam (Everyday People) and DeWitt Beall (Lord Thing) followed closely behind. The appointed stewardship of these collections invigorated our own understanding of CFA’s mission to preserve, highlight, and amplify the voices and histories of traditionally marginalized groups, which are reflected in these films and many others that have followed since. We quickly came to understand that the subjects of these works can best represent themselves – that their voices need to be heard whenever possible. CFA remains committed to ensuring the continued accessibility of this vital archive, which sheds tremendous light on the recent protests against police brutality. Read More »

December 31, 2019

Saying goodbye to 2019 and hello to CFA’s new vault

It has been fifteen years since CFA acquired and moved the Chicago Public Library film collection to our current space at 329 W. 18th Street. Since then, we’ve taken in 154 additional collections (over 27,000 items) and have run out of space in the vault.

Much of 2019 was spent preparing a significantly larger space with a dedicated enhanced cooling system and mobile compact shelving which will more than double our storage capacity for these films and for future collections. The final installations are happening now! The room is chilled and heavy-duty steel shelving will soon ride on top of rolling carriages that glide on top of newly-installed steel rails. In early 2020, thousands of films will be carefully transferred from CFA’s original vault to their new safehouse. This space and new equipment will allow for the storage of present and future Midwestern films in a climate-controlled environment for decades to come!

Countless thanks to each of our friends at the DEW Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the MacArthur Foundation for making this new vault a reality!

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July 3, 2019

CFA Media Mixer 2019 (in review)


We had a fantastic time at the 8th annual Media Mixer on May 9 and are absolutely thrilled with the incredible work produced by this year’s artists! Thanks to everyone who came and participated!

If you couldn’t make it (or if you want to watch the work again!), we now have two of the pieces available to stream below. Read more about the artists here.

2019’s talented lineup (video + sound):

Brian Ashby + Bill MacKay
Emily Eddy + Natalie Chami (TALsounds)
Amir George + Lilianna Zofia Wosko

Read More »

April 26, 2019

The Morrison-Shearer Foundation gifts their dance media collection to Chicago Film Archives


Sybil Shearer performing in Early Northbrook (circa 1956)

Chicago Film Archives is enormously pleased to announce the gifting of the Morrison-Shearer Foundation dance media collection to CFA. Our relationship with the Trustees and staff at the Foundation has been lengthy and has deepened considerably over the past ten years. Our combined inquiry, research, conservation work and collaboration has culminated in a profound mutual respect not only for the works in the collection, but for the interests, expertise and passions of all the individuals at both the Morrison-Shearer Foundation and Chicago Film Archives.

The Morrison-Shearer Foundation collection is comprised of unique and original film materials that reflect the artistry of photographer/filmmaker Helen Balfour Morrison and choreographer/dancer, Sybil Shearer. As a young dancer, Shearer dwelled deeply and thoroughly in the modernist dance movement taking shape in New York City, but began to forge her own creative path, pushing choreographic boundaries in new directions. In 1942 she moved to Chicago to teach and work close to nature, preferring the wide-open Midwest environment. It was here that she met the photographer Helen Balfour Morrison who became Shearer’s artistic collaborator. Morrison became skilled in using the motion camera not only to document Shearer’s work, but also to respond to and harmonize with the dancer she filmed. Read More »

April 7, 2019

CFA Media Mixer 2019: Meet this Year’s Artists


We’re so thrilled to announce the amazing lineup of artists participating in this year’s CFA Media Mixer event. Now in its eighth year (!!!), the Media Mixer has grown to be one of CFA’s most anticipated and exciting public programs. The project began in 2012 as a way to open up our vault of archival footage to Chicago-based contemporary artists, and to support the creation of a new video work by pairing visual artists with artists working with sound. At the heart of the Media Mixer is a desire to give our archival collections new life through the creative interpretation of a new generation of makers.

This year’s artists are (video + sound):

Brian Ashby + Bill MacKay

Emily Eddy + Natalie Chami (TALsounds)

Amir George + Lilianna Zofia Wosko

Please join us at Constellation on May 9 for the world premiere of their collaborations - performed with live audio!

Tickets are available for advance purchase here.

Read More »

December 21, 2018

A look back at CFA’s public programs in 2018

2018 was a year marked by tremendous growth and development for CFA. Our mission to collect, preserve, and exhibit films that represent the history and culture of our region was evident in exhibitions, screenings, and programs that were as vibrant, diverse and unique as our collections. With public programs at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Chicago History Museum, and CFA’s films featured prominently in the exhibitions Up is Down: Mid-century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950-1980 at the Art Institute of Chicago, CFA reached new heights in terms of visibility and outreach. We feel humbled and honored to have worked with so many dedicated artists and organizations over the last year.

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