a gritty image of two Black people, one with a newboy cap, one smoking, with a yellow and red abstract shape overlayed
From Elsewhere (2022) by Janelle Vaughn Dowell and Sen Morimoto. Courtesy Chicago Film Archives

Some things may happen annually, but that doesn’t make them any less exciting. The CFA Media Mixer is one such event. Started in 2012, the Media Mixer—put on by Chicago Film Archives (CFA)—brings together local filmmakers and musicians to make an original work out of footage from the Archives’ immense collection of ephemera concentrated on the history and culture of Chicago and the midwest at large. Last year was the tenth iteration of this singular event, which merges two vibrant local communities into an evening of pure creation. The duos, listed in the order of filmmaker and musician, were Kishino Takagishi and Daniel Knox; Tempestt Hazel and Azita Youssefi; and Janelle Dowell and Sen Morimoto. They culled from works by the likes of JoAnn Elam and Mort and Millie Goldsholl, as well as home movies and amateur films from across the decades.

Chicago Film Archives

The results are always mesmerizing—one comes away in awe of the power of creativity, at once drawn in by its magnetism and confounded by its elusiveness. The event, which took place at Constellation, often features live accompaniment; last year Sen Morimoto performed along with Dowell’s film, and most of the artists were present to participate in a post-screening conversation. Amy Beste, SAIC lecturer and curatorial mastermind behind the Conversations at the Edge screening series at the Gene Siskel Film Center, hosted. Joining those in the present were the ghosts of the past, given a new form in which to enjoy an evening of art and community.

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