Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals Announced, Will Begin Operations in 2023

Together we are stronger. And with that in mind, an all-new unifying organization has been formed in Chicago. It was announced at FACETS’ annual Screen Gems Benefit last week, honoring the life and career of Chaz Ebert, that the 47-year-old cinema organization will be administering the newly launched Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals (CAFF). CAFF is comprised of Chicagoland-based film festivals, venues, film schools, and industry creatives whose mission is to grow the film festival sector, enrich local communities, and enhance the cultural and economic vitality of the area by expanding audiences and expertise.

In the days leading up to the Screen Gems Benefit, FACETS Executive Director Karen Cardarelli talked about the Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals’ origins and said: “As Chicago arts organizations started to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown and our venue was increasingly engaging with the film community again and starting to discuss collaborations, the idea to establish and oversee a group of film festival partners was presented to me by Eugene Park of Full Spectrum Features and Ana Garcia Doyle of One Earth Collective. It is a true honor and an auspicious opportunity for FACETS to oversee this initiative to foster unity among Chicago film organizations so that we can grow as a collective body that benefits all.”

The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is one of the anchoring supporters the Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals. DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey said: “With Chicago being a world-class city of culture as both a hub of arts production and tourism, this initiative shines a light on the importance and interdependence of its film and television community that also includes film venues and festivals, and academic institutions that teach the craft and its history. All of these sectors combined will be all the more impactful to stimulate economic growth and enhance the education and entertainment that this city has to offer to residents and visitors alike.”

Chicago area organizations to-date that have pledged to become members of the CAFF are (In)Justice For All Film Festival International, Access Contemporary Music, Americas Media Initiative NFP, Arts + Public Life, Black Alphabet NFP, Chicago Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Office, Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Irish Film Festival, Chicago Made Shorts, Chicago Palestine Film Festival, Chicago Park District, Chicago ReelAbilities Film Festival, Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Chicago Southland International Film Festival, Chicago Underground NFP, Cinema/Chicago & Chicago International Film Festival, Davis Theater, Elevated Films Chicago, FACETS / Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, Full Spectrum Features, Gene Siskel Film Center, GoLucky Studios, Gorton Community Center, Governors State University, Illinois Film Office, Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Kartemquin Films, The Lake County Film Festival, The Logan Theatre, Midwest Film Festival, Mosaic World Film Festival, Music Box Theatre, Nebula Creatives L3C, One Earth Collective, One Earth Film Festival, Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival, Open SpaceArts / Pride Film Fest, Open Television (OTV), Percolator Films, Pivot Arts, Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ + International Film Festival, and Sophia’s Choice / Asian Pop-Up Cinema. 

CAFF, which will begin full operations in early 2023 and start membership sign-ups at that time, is comprised of two committees, a Steering Committee, which will meet regularly to guide and oversee execution of annual initiatives, and an Advisory Committee, which will be tapped for its industry and capacity building expertise. 

CAFF Steering Committee members are Kathleen Beckman, FACETS; Karen Cardarelli, FACETS; Nat Dykeman, The Lake County Film Festival; Thavary Krouch, Chicago Film Office; Deidre Searcy, FACETS; Grishma Shah, ReelAbilities Film Festival; and Jigar Shah, Chicago South Asian Film Festival.

CAFF Advisory Committee members are Jude Blackburn, Chicago Irish Film Festival; Rebecca Fons, Gene Siskel Film Center; Ana Garcia Doyle, One Earth Collective; Peter Hawley, Illinois Film Office; Eugene Park, Full Spectrum Features; Ines Sommer, DOC Chicago; Rima Sweiss, Chicago Palestine Film Festival; Vivian Teng, Chicago International Film Festival; and Brenda Webb, Chicago Filmmakers, Reeling Film Festival, and Onion City Film Festival.

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