Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that fosters the creation, appreciation, and understanding of film and video as media for artistic and personal expression, as well as media of important social and community impact. Chicago Filmmakers' twofold mission is to serve independent film and digital video artists by supporting the creation and dissemination of new media arts works and to serve Chicago audiences by screening artistically innovative, socially relevant, and diverse films and videos.
Chicago Filmmakers nurtures the development of aspiring filmmakers of all ages by offering classes, workshops, and summer camps; empowers artists to create new work through production grants, equipment access, fiscal sponsorship, and other services and resources; and encourages the professional advancement of media artists through seminars, panel discussions, lectures, rough-cut and open screenings, as well as networking events and other opportunities for artistic exchange. Chicago Filmmakers develops diverse audiences through its year-round weekly film and video exhibition programs and its two annual film festivals, Reeling the Chicago LGBTQ International Film Festival and The Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival.
In 1973 a group of experimental filmmakers formed an artist-run weekly screening series in response to the lack of an exhibition space to show their own work and the work of other new and emerging filmmakers. This Saturday night screening program, started under the auspices of N.A.M.E. Gallery, was called Filmgroup at N.A.M.E. In 1976, Filmgroup separated from the gallery and incorporated as Chicago Filmmakers. The exhibition program is now one of the longest-running showcases in the country for American and foreign independent film and video. Meanwhile, Chicago Filmmakers has evolved into more than a venue for screening films; it is now a diverse media arts center with programs in adult and youth education, equipment access and other filmmaker services, film distribution and preservation, and production funding.