Founded by projectionists in 2011, the Chicago Film Society exists to promote the preservation of film in context. Film prints capture the past uniquely. As physical artifacts, they hold the stories told by films, but also the stories of the industries that produced them, the labs that printed them, the places where they were exhibited, and the people who watched them. All of this history—not just of film, but of industry, labor, recreation, and culture—is more intelligible and powerful when it’s grounded in unsimulated experience: seeing a film in a theater, with an audience, and projected from film stock.
The Chicago Film Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 80-0676821
Phone: (773) 850 0141 (leave a voicemail)
Postal mail: 1635 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615
“…extraordinary…” — David Bordwell
“…one of the most valuable arts institutions in the city.” — Joshua Minsoo Kim, Chicago Reader
“The Chicago Film Society is one of the greatest and most historic film organizations on the planet.” — Screen Slate
“[CFS] programmers are peerless repertory cinema magicians…” — Steven Pate, Chicagoist
” My most fondly cherished vision would involve a return of American film culture to its amateur roots—amateur in the sense of non-careerist as well as in the sense of a thing done for love—as a thousand regional cine-clubs and microcinemas and organizations like the Chicago Film Society bloom from the rubble of the current system…” — Nick Pinkerton, Employee Picks
“Chicago Film Society quietly stands out among many theatrical institutions for its dedication not just to projecting film but to the curatorial work of resurfacing titles that have not screened in up to a decade or more.” — Nicolas Rapold, Criterion.com
“…wonderfully eclectic taste and a real talent for unearthing obscurities.” — Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune
“The bright young people who operate the Chicago Film Society, which is in the valuable business of saving and restoring old movies, have a passionate appreciation of the past…” — Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
“The Chicago Film Society take film seriously. They’re a hardcore group of cinephiles that put me to shame when I talk about film.” — Sean Baker, Sight and Sound
“…the best kind of repertory programming” — Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
A projectionist, technician, filmmaker, and archivist living and working in Chicago, Julian currently serves Executive Director for the Film Society. Julian projects at CFS shows, manages the CFS film collection and film loans, and has a special interest in making sure every bit of salvaged film and equipment has a useful life. He also works at the Music Box Theatre as Technical Director. He is a stickler for focus, and his favorite movie is Meet Me in St. Louis.
Rebecca became aware of the special materiality of the movies in the summer of 2003, at a silent film screening in Bucksport, Maine, which was introduced with a retelling of the “Dawson Film Find,” a famous (to film archivists) 1978 incident in which hundreds of reels of nitrate film were unearthed under a paved-over athletic facility in the Yukon. This raised some questions. Where are movies when they aren’t being watched? What is a movie, physically? A few years later, she served on the board at Doc Films, where she co-programmed an all-16mm series of films produced by Mark IV pictures and a retrospective of Andy Warhol’s films. In 2011, she co-founded the Chicago Film Society. She has also been a projectionist, produce store clerk, operations manager, scanner of small-gauge film and glass magic lantern slides, nonprofit administrator, graphic designer, data wrangler, and set dresser.
Rebecca Lyon began working with the Chicago Film Society in 2015. She serves as a projectionist, oversees such special projects as Celluloid Chicago and the Leader Ladies Project, and is on our programming team. She also works as the Assistant Technical Director and Programming assistant at the Music Box Theatre.
Aspiring archivist and all around analog media enthusiast Tavi came to working with CFS by inspecting film at home and being awed that such vibrant colors could exist on celluloid. Her fascination with cinema and making sure things get put away properly has made her think it’s a good move to pursue a career archiving film.
Kyle spent his adolescence in Sacramento, California and learned about movies at the Crest and Tower Theatres. (A screening of Apocalypse Now Redux in a latter-day Technicolor dye transfer 35mm print at the Crest taught him about the emotional importance of print quality in ways that a teenager had no hope of articulating.) For four years Kyle served variously as treasurer, projectionist, historian, and ultimately programming chair for Doc Films at the University of Chicago. He has also interned or worked at the Bank of America Cinema, the University of Chicago Film Studies Center, the Little Theatre, Monaco Digital Film Lab, UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Pacific Film Archive, and the George Eastman House. His program notes are featured on Kino’s “Avant-Garde 3” DVD box set, which won a Film Heritage Award from the National Society of Film Critics. He is a 2009 graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. At the Chicago Film Society, Kyle serves as co-programmer and writes our blog. He’s interested in avant-garde cinema, early talkies, the history of non-theatrical distribution and exhibition, and everything else. He is working on a book or two.
Cameron is a filmmaker and projectionist originally from the Tampa Bay area. His first understanding of film as a precious and unique material came at the age of 20 when he purchased and subsequently broke four super 8 cameras in the span of a semester. Since then he has received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, figured out how to load a camera, arrive at a correct exposure, find focus, and thread a projector without mangling film. In 2015, Cameron brought his love of fringe movies and cinema mongrels to the Chicago Film Society, helping to piece together each season’s program, writing capsules, selling tickets, distributing print booklets, and filling other miscellaneous support functions. He reserves a great affection for Westerns, Structuralist film, American exploitation cinema, W.C. Fields, Mary Woronov, and Yasujiro Ozu.
Chicago Film Society co-founder and Executive Director
Raul Benitez has been a film programmer in Chicago for over 14 years. Raul currently is the Senior Programmer at the Midwest Film Festival, and the After Dark programmer at the Chicago International Film Festival. Raul also programs at Comfort Station Logan Square, Full Spectrum Features, and the Nightingale Cinema. Raul has been named a Chicago Film gem by New City Chicago for 2015,17,19 and in 2023 Raul was inducted to the Film Gem Hall of Fame. He was named an Esteemed Artist by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and received a DCASE grant for his Chicago/Mexico City Filmmaker exchange program.
Mimi Brody is an independent programmer specializing in contemporary documentary, world cinema and archival/repertory programming. She has worked with the American Film Institute, Block Cinema, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. She first decided she wanted to become a programmer after seeing a 35mm projection of Mickey One at the Roxie Cinema in her native San Francisco. Personal programming highlights include screenings of favorites Cobra Woman, La signora di tutti, Demon Lover Diary; a multi-film tribute to Anna May Wong; several pre-Code film series that included rare nitrate prints; and a tribute to Henri Langlois which was an excuse to import rare films from archives around the world.
Edo Choi is a programmer, projectionist, and critic based in New York City. He is currently Associate Curator of Film at Museum of the Moving Image. He was formerly a programmer at the Maysles Documentary Center. He has projected at venues in both New York City and Chicago, including most recently Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn.
Chicago Film Society co-founder
Steven owns and operates multiple old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar businesses in Chicago including a produce store, a florist, a wine shop, as well as a web development and custom programming agency. His grandfather worked for Eiki, and he learned to thread 16mm projectors in the 4th grade. Doc Films introduced him to 35mm projection and the wider world of cinema, and he later projected at the Bank of America Cinema, birthplace of the Chicago Film Society.
Brigid began her career developing inclusive and engaging public programs for the Field Museum of Natural History and the DuPage Children’s Museum. She is now the Operations Manager at Invisible Institute in Chicago.
Chicago Film Society co-founder
Artemis is a media arts curator, nonprofit arts consultant, documentary filmmaker and scholar of the magic lantern. She recently received a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. She has organized film tributes, retrospectives and lantern shows at the National Gallery of Art, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Smithsonian Institution, Anthology Film Archives and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Prior to coming to Chicago, she was vice-president of the New York Film/Video Council, New York’s oldest continuously operating nonprofit serving the independent film and media community, and director of distribution and special educational projects for the Checkerboard Film Foundation, a leading producer of films on the American arts. Her films and lantern performances have been presented at various museums, festivals, and conferences in the U.S. and overseas.
Brian Block is a filmmaker and musician living in New York City. Over the last ten years he has worked in film programming, distribution, and restoration.
Lori Felker is a Chicago-based filmmaker, teacher, programmer, and performer. Her films celebrate the ineloquent, oppositional, frustrating, chaotic qualities of human interaction. An Assistant Professor at DePaul University, she loves every facet of filmmaking and works as a cinematographer, editor, and/or actor for various artists and directors.
Andy is the curator of film and media at the Washington University Libraries in St. Louis. He also is a PhD candidate at IU working on a dissertation on private film collecting as a non-institutional form of preservation.
Please note: The Chicago Film Society is not related to or affiliated with The Chicago Cinema Society.