“I Don’t Want To Belong To Any Club That Would Accept Me As A Member.”

– Groucho Marx


The CUFF DAO is starting small and will only be accepting 29 new members during the CUFF29 festival cycle. Creatives who have been involved with the festival in the past (as either a filmmaker, screener, programmer, poster-artist, trailer-artist, after-party performer, staff member, volunteer or combination of the above,) will be invited to join the DAO and decide which 29 new members will be accepted during our genesis year.

If you’d like to join the CUFF DAO and you haven’t been involved with the festival before

If you’d like to join the CUFF DAO and you have been involved with the festival before



The Chicago Underground Film Festival is dedicated to the work of film and video makers with defiantly independent visions. Widely recognized as a world-class event, the festival showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers and emerging talent from around the world. Our mission is to promote films and videos that dissent radically in form, technique, or content from the “indie” mainstream and to present adventurous works that challenge and transcend commercial and audience expectations. 


defiantly independent visions — The act of exploring a different structural framework for a festival is defiant in and of itself — we are challenging the western-centric, capitalist, oppressive norm of Hollywood and major film houses. It’s in our festival’s DNA to not solely champion filmmakers and artists who have defiantly independent visions, but to simultaneously champion ourselves in the exploration of this practice.

dissent radically in form, technique, or content – An organization that doesn’t follow a traditional hierarchy and is curious about incorporating the latest tech to aid in the decision making process is radical. As mentioned above, challenging the profit-driven, patriarchal, white-supremacist norms that have led to the destruction of our planet and degradation of our social fabric necessitates radical forms of organization using new democratic technologies. Furthermore, challenging the technique in which an organization makes decisions and how those decisions get recorded, and then actualized, is most definitely radical. CUFF is radical. The films we love are radical. And by not exploring a decentralized and autonomous structure that could increase accessibility, and perhaps assist in reshaping this festival for the better, would be an act of fear rather than a radical act of curiosity and love for our underground community. 

present adventurous works that challenge and transcend commercial and audience expectations – We are inviting our community to challenge traditional entity structures; thus, transcending expectations around how a film festival should be organized and run. The CUFF community includes 29 years worth of filmmakers, musicians, artists, screenings, programmers, volunteers, attendees and staff from across the globe.  Through our exploration of the DAO framework, we are creating a space for this network of people to connect, and if they choose, participate in shaping certain aspects of this festival. CUFF has an opportunity to be a leader in this new space and help define what film festivals of the future will look like.