» By the people, for the people

Dear beloved friends of the underground,

We hope everyone is doing as well as one can be during these tumultuous and unprecedented times.  

For the past 27 years, Chicago Underground Film Fest has been championing filmmakers and screening films that don’t fit within the suffocating framework of our long-upheld societal norms. 

As an organization, we believe that film can be used as a powerful and democratizing tool for change. We understand that prejudice and discrimination are learned, and we stand committed to using film as a medium to amplify voices that need to be heard. Documentarian Stanley Nelson discusses this notion further in a recent interview with Indiewire Magazine:

“It’s important for documentary filmmakers at this point to understand that we are the news. There’s a lot of reporting that’s not news, or slanted. One of the things we believe strongly at our company, Firelight, is that people should tell their own stories. We really believe this is a time when filmmakers of color can have a chance to tell their stories. It’s incumbent on white filmmakers to help them do that, to move out of the way so that they can do that. Part of the hierarchy of race in our country is how many times white filmmakers have the access to power and money, the access to equipment. They could get out there and make a film about this that’s in some ways not entirely representative of where we are as a community. It’s really important that people tell their own stories.”  

Two months ago, we welcomed nine student ambassadors to the CUFF community: Brad Brewington, Caroline Moore, Clay Mills, Elaine Pugsley, Emma Pillsbury, Jeremy Carter, Jesse Bond, Sofia Alfaro and Sophia Muir. These youthful visionaries, activists and creatives – all of whom have stories, perspectives, and opinions to share, will be contributing weekly multi-media pieces that will challenge preconceived notions and widen the world for ourselves and our audience. 

Throughout history, we’ve seen how young people have driven many of society’s most powerful and profound changes. And as we look to connect with the world through stories, film, photography, music and content – all during a time where we’re still being encouraged to remain socially-distant – we hope to put the spotlight not just on underground film, but also on the unreported, the underrepresented, and to challenge our community to see the complexity (and beauty) within every situation. 

Until we can hug one another again, stay strong Chicago. We love you.