2019 Chicago Film Festival Symposium

Event will unite
nearly 40
to “better
understand our
collective work
as an industry”

The first-ever Chicago Film Festival Symposium will bring together Chicago-area film festival stakeholders for an industry-wide discussion addressing shared challenges and opportunities.

Continental breakfast, lunch, and cocktail reception are included with the $20 registration fee. Learn more and register here.

The greater Chicagoland area is home to over 50 independent film festivals, ranging from one-day student showcases to multi-week extravaganzas. These festivals are the engine behind local and regional cinema culture.

The goal of the 2019 Film Festival Symposium is to bring together leaders and stakeholders in this space to better understand our collective work as an industry, and to identify possible strategies we can adopt to help us build a vibrant — and economically sustainable — arts sector.

The Symposium will provide a structured process for organizational reflection and self-assessment. Through conversations, exercises and workshops, we will gain new insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by film festivals — both individually and collectively as an industry.

The outcome of this work will be one-to-two key proposals or initiatives that will help film festivals operate more efficiently and sustainably. The proposals that result from the Symposium will be beta-tested and evaluated in 2020.


Friday, July 19 – 9:30 – 5pm; 5:30pm cocktail reception

Chicago Cultural Center – 8 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

The Symposium will bring together festival directors, founders, board members, programmers, volunteers and festival stakeholders. See below for the full list of registered festivals (as of 7/01/2019).

Black Harvest Film Festival | The Chicago 48 Hour Film Project | Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival | Chicago Critics Film Festival | Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema | Chicago Latino Film Festival | Chicago European Union Film Festival | Chicago Onscreen: Local Film Showcase | Chicago South Side Film Festival | Chicago Irish Film Festival | Chicago Feminist Film Festival | Chicago Filmmakers | Chicago International Film Festival | Chicago South Asian Film Festival | Chicago Underground Film Festival | CIMMfest | Comfort Station | Community TV Network | Cow Lamp Films | Doc10 | Elevated Films Chicago | Film Festival Alliance | First Nations Film and Video Festival | Full Spectrum Features NFP | IES Study Abroad Film Festival | Imago Film Festival | In/Motion: Chicago’s International Dance Film Festival | JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival | Juggernaut Film Festival | The Lake County Film Festival | The Logan Theatre | Milwaukee Film | Music Box Theatre | Onion City Film Festival | One Earth Film Festival | OTV | Open Television | Reality Bytes Student Independent Film Festival | ReelAbilities Film Festival | Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival | Shortcut 100 Independent Film Festival | True/False Film Festival

The Symposium was borne out of conversations between film festival organizers who realized they had shared challenges and wondered if there might be ways for festivals to share resources and work together towards the common goal of sustainability.

The Symposium steering committee consists of representatives from Full Spectrum Features, Chicago Feminist Film Festival, One Earth Film Festival, and In/Motion Dance Film Festival.

Send your event updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.