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SERIES: Young Chicago Filmmaker’s Festival

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Series Identifier: S.2004-01-0001
16 reels
Inclusive Dates
1971 - 1973
From 1971-1973, the Chicago Public Library sponsored the “Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival” – a film festival for “any amateur filmmaker, who is a resident or attending a Chicago high school, junior college or undergraduate college, as well as non-students, 25 years of age or younger.” Local teenagers and twenty-somethings picked up entry forms at their local library branch and submitted films that they made for class, community film workshops or just for the love of it. According to the CPL, the short-lived fest “encouraged film as an art and a means of communication by providing amateur filmmakers with a place to show their works, an audience to view them, and a jury to score them.”

Each festival year, a panel of local judges chose a Best-of-the-Fest winner as well as winners by age group and various categories - documentary, animation, song interpretation, commentary and comedy, among others. All entries were screened over a three-day period at the Chicago Public Library’s Central Library (now the location of the Chicago Cultural Center - 78 E Washington St). The library then screened the Best-of-the Fest a few days later, announcing the festival winners at this time. Winning films were also broadcast on WTTW Channel 11's "Director's Choice" program. The lucky filmmakers went home with such prizes as Bell & Howell Super 8 movie cameras, Kodak still cameras, gift certificates to Sears, Roebuck and Co., or a full semester at Columbia College. Some filmmakers also went on to win internships at local news broadcasting stations and film production houses.

So how exactly did these films enter the library's permanent film collection, which is now housed at CFA? Unfortunately we are left to speculation. A Chicago Tribune article states winning films were accessioned into the library’s collection, a description confirmed by 1971 participant George Curtis (who made Sugar Mountain). George recalled that he provided his master A/B rolls and soundtrack so that a print could be made specifically for holding in the library's archives, while his own submitted contest print was returned to him. However, a recent interview with a former CPL Audiovisual Center librarian suggested that these films were just simply not retrieved by the filmmakers and never intended to be accessioned. Whichever account is more likely, no library catalog records exist for any of these films. It is also possible that these films were placed on reserve and only available for on-site viewing within the library.
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