This six-screening series assembles activist grassroots documentaries made by oppositional groups in the United States for more than 50 years. Curated by Louis Massiah of the Scribe Video Center and Patricia Zimmermann of Ithaca College, the series offers an essential history of the individual voices that embody and constitute “we the people.” Exploring salient topics of collective documentary practice, each program features a diversity of voices across historical time periods and geographic locations throughout the United States. The programs chronicle a rich history of political and social engagement by community groups, connecting past with present to show the development of ideas, media technologies, and politics. Each screening will be complemented by speakers from across Chicagoland, including filmmakers, activists, and scholars, further connecting the issues raised in the films to our own lives.

Screenings take place at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., and the Green Line Performing Arts Center, 329 E. Garfield Blvd. 

Presented by the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life and the Film Studies Center.


1/16: States of Violence, with Jacqueline Stewart, Louis Massiah, and Maira Kwhaja
1/30: Environments of Race and Place, with Susan Gzesh and Alaka Wali
2/6: Body Publics, with Judy Hoffman, Sarah Oberholtzer, and Alex Halkin
2/20: Wages of Work, with Salomé Aguilar Skvirsky, Patricia Zimmermann, and Andrew Friend
2/27: Collaborative Knowledges, with Jacqueline Stewart, Carmel Curtis, and Margaret Caples
3/12: Turf, with Allyson Nadia Field, Angela Aguayo, Denise Zaccardi, Anton Seals, and Gordon Quinn

20 year anniversary

We’re celebrating! Twenty years ago this fall, the Film Studies Center threaded up its first reel, dimmed the lights, and screened its first film in Cobb 307. Thousands of films and videos later, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary with a new home in the Logan Center for the Arts, a new environmentally sound film vault for the ever-expanding collection, and a renewed enthusiasm for cinema and media studies in an era of expanding technologies.

Film Screening Room at the Logan

Donning hard hats and reflective vests, CMS faculty, students and staff explored the new Logan Center for the Arts on a preview tour in mid-March. Though still under construction, the state-of-the-art Film Screening Room and Film Vault are on their way to becoming exceptional resources for the Department of Cinema and Media Studies.  Starting in October, the new facilities will house most CMS courses, public events and media collections. The multi-format screening room is equipped to show everything from film to digital to 3-D in a comfortable, acoustically isolated, 130-seat theater.