Apr 17, 2024 - Culture

Never-before-seen videos of 1960s Chicago screen this weekend

Black and white still of a girl with a microphone interviewing a woman.

A still from the video "MaryAnn," which will be screened Friday. Photo courtesy of Community TV Network.

An event in Hyde Park this weekend is unveiling never-before-seen film reels that capture Chicago as it was more than 50 years ago.

Why it matters: The public will be able to view for the first time videos made by artists, activists and citizen journalists in the 1960s and '70s — when the first hand-held video cameras made it possible for people to document their communities, long before smartphones and YouTube made that common practice.

Zoom in: Media Burn Archive and University of Chicago have digitized thousands of hours of reels as part of Guerrilla Television: The Revolutions of Early Independent Video Symposium, which kicks off Friday.

Flashback: Hand-held cameras democratized video-making, which had previously been restricted to broadcast studios with huge equipment that required special training.

  • The videos screening this weekend were donated to Media Burn throughout the years.

What they're saying: "The content in the program really represents just a lot of ordinary people, community members, having access to the means of communication and making things about their communities, their neighborhoods," Media Burn's Sara Chapman tells Axios.

  • "There's a really great piece called 'MaryAnn,' which was made by a group of teenage girls [in Humboldt Park]. They're black girls from Chicago, and they're making a video about the older sister, who they think is just the coolest person," Chapman cites as an example.

If you go: The symposium runs through the weekend at University of Chicago, and includes discussions around video activism, guerrilla documentary-making and video art.

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