Chicago is the proud home of over 40 independent film festivals providing distinctive programming throughout the year. Filmmakers and enthusiasts should explore the listing below for festivals from Latino to LGBT, European to Black Harvest, underground to home grown, with original cinematic voices from well beyond the multiplex. Visit each site for more information. To list your festival, email email@example.com.
The Midwest Independent Film Festival is the nation's only film festival solely dedicated to the Midwest filmmaker, presenting audiences with regionally produced independent cinema every first Tuesday of the month at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark in Chicago. This year-round film festival sits proudly at the center of the independent film scene in Chicago and the Midwest and is dedicated to celebrating and strengthening that community. Founded 2005
This festival showcases Chicago premieres of new films from Iran and the Iranian diaspora as directors continue to overcome challenges and circumvent taboos to bring their work to the world. Founded 1990
The Chicago Irish Film Festival is a showcase for Irish film production that embraces innovation, independence, and creativity that is rooted in Ireland's rich cultural heritage . The four day event presents a selection of shorts, narrative features and coumentaries by Irish filmmakers and filmmakers of Irish heritage. Founded 2000
The JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival showcases films that reach across age groups for families, young adults, and seniors. This festival is a no-holds barred approach to diversity and the strong Jewish contributions to world culture. Founded 2014
One Earth Film Festival utilizes compelling environmental films and engaging programming in order to bring about an understanding of climate change, sustainability, and the power of people. Founded 2012
The Chicago Feminist Film Festival showcases independent film, predominantly shorts, spanning documentary, fiction, and experimental genres, and aims to address issues of gender, sexuality, race, and other forms of inequality often missing from mainstream media. Founded 2016
Onion City is one of the few international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video. The mission of Onion City is to provide local audiences with an opportunity to view a wide range of contemporary experimental works that represent differing styles, forms, and nationalities. Founded 1985
The Peace On Earth Film Festival is a non-profit festival whose mission is to foster a change in public discourse by building alternatives to violence, while demonstrating progressive steps toward social justice and an eco-balanced world. The POEFF fulfils that mission by presenting films, discussion panels, and outreach programming which highlight such efforts both locally and worldwide. Founded 2008
Asian Pop-Up Cinema (亞洲躍動電影展) is a semi-annual film festival - every spring and fall - that shows a series of specially curated films in their original languages with English subtitles. Their vision is fostering appreciation for diverse Asian cultures through cultivating an interest in and understanding of Asian cultures via a diverse offering of Asian films; connecting the Asian film industry with local Chicago film professionals, educators and students; and promoting Chicago as a destination for international visitors. Films are presented at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago plus other venues in the city in partnership with local cultural organizations. Founded 2015
The In/Motion International Dance Film Festival connects Chicago's vibrant dance and film communities with national and international artists through short and feature dance film screenings, Q&A’s, workshops, live performances, dance classes, panel discussions, and networking events. Our mission is to celebrate dance performance within digital media platforms, encourage artists to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration, support work that promotes social change, and foster innovation in the presentation of movement-based artworks. Founded 2014
The Chicago Latino Film Festival is considered the largest, most comprehensive and best Latino film festival in the United States, and presents over 100 films of cultural and social significance from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the U.S. The Festival stresses the importance of the artistic and educational value of film. Founded 1985
CineYouth is the Chicago International Film Festival’s yearly film festival that showcases short films made by filmmakers 22 years old and younger from around the world. CineYouth strives to encourage the talent of young artists and to provide them with opportunities to tell their stories, network with their peers and be recognized for their creativity. Founded 2004
The Chicago Critics Film Festival offers a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers ranging from award winners to talented newcomers chosen by members of the organization, the only current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival. Founded 2013
The Chicago Underground Film Festival, the longest running "underground" film festival in the world, exists to showcase the defiantly independent filmmaker. Our mission is to promote films and videos that experiment in form, technique, or content and to present adventurous works that challenge and transcend expectations. Founded 1994
This one-day event celebrates Science Fiction and Fantasy short films from around the world. It is presented by Chicago's Otherworld Theatre Company, whose mission is to further explore and promote the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, and takes place at the Music Box Theater.
North American’s largest showcase of European Union cinema, see Europe by film with over 60 premieres from 28 EU nations, plus filmmaker appearances, discussions, and special events. Founded 1997
The Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) is an organization that celebrates emerging Asian American creative talent and supports artists in building a grassroots audience for their work. The annual Asian American Showcase at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, is a unique festival that features the rich, diverse voices of Asian American filmmakers through narrative features, documentaries, and shorts. Founded 1995
Presented in collaboration with the Chicago Palestine Film Festival, this annual Gene Siskel Film Center event represents the spirit and mood of contemporary Palestinian life. It is dedicated to exhibiting film and video work that is open, critical, and reflective of the culture, experience, and vision of the artists. Founded 2001
CIMMfest is a a four-day showcase of outstanding films, energetic concerts, visually stunning VJ/DJ sets, lively Q&A’s, daring live score performances, industry conference and presentations…anything to show just what movies and music mean to each other. Founded 2009
The (In)Justice for All Film Festival was conceived as a project to use the power of film to educate our community and build the grass roots support needed to affect the systemic changes required to end the epidemic of mass incarceration. To that end, in addition to screening films, we, along with our various partners, host events that enrich our understanding of issues; Mental Health, Drug Addiction and Abuse, Harsh Juvenile Sentencing, Three Strikes Laws, the Drug War, etc., are potential topics for workshops and panel discussions associated with screenings. Founded 2014
Chicagoland Shorts is Full Spectrum Features' annual touring short film series that highlights the incredible diversity of The Windy City and its surrounding communities. The series celebrates the vastness of the Chicagoland experience and provides an outlet for those cinematic voices that often go unheard within the independent film community. Founded 2015
Cinema/Chicago, together with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and International Connections Committee, made up of consular and cultural partners, presents this free weekly film series that celebrates the richness and diversity of international and independent filmmaking. These 18 films from around the world embody genres and styles ranging from thoughtful coming-of-age dramas and inspiring documentaries to poignant love stories and laugh-out-loud comedies.
Queer Bits Film Festival is now in its fifth year and prides itself in providing the best LGBT short films with their Chicago premieres. The mission of PFP is to change lives through the generation of diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that is essential viewing for all audiences.
Music Box Theatre
BWIFF seeks out bold and innovative filmmakers that utilize story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven independent cinema that is fueled by the filmmaker's passion for the art without large studio support.
The Black Harvest Film Festival is Chicago’s Black film festival and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s most vibrant annual showcase of new work from the African diaspora with filmmakers in person for discussion, panels, and special events. Founded 1996
The Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase strives to bring more depth and thoughtfulness to existing Movies in the Parks programming by exposing Chicago Park District Patrons to new, independent movies with Chicago connections. The Showcase supports and advocates for Chicago's vibrant film community by inviting filmmakers to become an active part of one of Chicago's favorite film-based programs. Founded 2014
The second longest-running film festival of its kind in the world, the mission of Reeling is to counteract the misrepresentation and stereotyping of LGBTQ people in mainstream media with valid, meaningful, and diverse portrayals of LGBTQ people and their stories. Founded 1981
The Chicago South Asian Film Festival is one of the largest multicultural events in the heartland of America and is dedicated to advancing diversity in Chicagoland through cinema, conversation and culture. The Festival was founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, a non-profit organization that aims to promote creativity and culture through art. The Festival supports films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet.
ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States dedicated to sharing the lives, stories and art of people with disabilities. Established in New York City in 2007, ReelAbilities has now spread to 14 cities across the US, each hosting a ReelAbilities Film Festival featuring films that explore, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of human experience. Founded 2015
The Chicago International Film Festival, now in its 52nd edition, is North America’s longest running competitive film festival. In addition to showcasing 150 films from over 50 countries, filmmaker Q&As, red carpet galas, tributes, and panels, the Festival also presents INDUSTRY DAYS, a 4-day conference for industry professionals. Founded 1965
Chicago International Social Change Film Fetival showcases films that document injustices to inspire people to create change. Then, we provide attendees with access to the people and resources necessary to plug into whatever movement is taking place to address the issues in the films shown. Founded 2012
The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema is an independent community-supported 501c3 nonprofit organization now in its 11th year. We are dedicated to sharing an appreciation of globally-recognized Israeli cinematic achievements and diverse culture with the community at large and serving as a catalyst for multi-cultural dialog, as many of the same ethic groups (from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia) coexisting side-by-side in Israel also live in Chicago. Founded 2005
Each year, the Chicago International Children's Film Festival presents the best 250+ short and feature films for children and youth from 45+ countries. Experience the joy and power of film through premiere screenings, hands-on workshops, and discussion with filmmakers at the 33rd annual Chicago International Children's Film Festival. Founded 1983
The Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival provides a vehicle for nationwide exposure of quality, thought provoking and envelope pushing films. It's a celebration that focuses on stories, people, and passions that are too often unexplored or honored in mainstream filmmaking. Founded 2013
MOSTRA (meaning “exhibit” in Portuguese) is the largest Brazilian film festival in the midwest. Presented by the non-profit organization Illinois Sao Paulo Chapter of Partners of the Americas. The event’s motto is “Brazilian Films with Social Conscience.” MOSTRA has as its venues educational and cultural institutions to foster conversations about social issues among the academic community, filmmakers, students and socially conscious individuals. Founded 2010
The 29th edition of Polish Film Festival in America (PFFA), the world’s most extensive showcase of Polish film and the largest annual Polish cultural event outside of Poland, will take place from Saturday, November 4 to Sunday, November 19, 2017 in three major cinematic venues in the Chicagoland area.
AMC Rosemont 18, regular PFFA screenings will be held in Facets Cinematheque (1517 West Fullerton Ave.), and Gallery Theatre (1112 North Milwaukee Ave.), the Festival’s primary location for showings of documentary films; the elegant digital space accommodates HD screenings.
The mission of the Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival is to screen the best short films from around the World to the people of Chicago. Founded 2002
Chicago Comedy Film Festival is committed to bringing independent comedy to the screen. Our mission is to support comedy filmmaking as a vital and influential art form. Founded 2010