The FilmEx Summit will bring together industry leaders and decision-makers from film festivals & independent theaters across the United States and Canada, gathering June 21 - 24 in downtown Chicago, to discuss the future of the film festival, and wider exhibition, industry.

The Summit will explore themes of sustainability, radical re-imagination, and evolving leadership and their impact on the future of the independent film exhibition sector. The programming will feature engaging workshops, thoughtful breakouts, hands-on activities, and inspired speakers over three days, all aimed at questioning where we’ve come from and how we can build a more equitable, inclusive eco-system moving forward.

Attending Organizations Include:


April 5: Registration opens for everyone

Regular Registration (after May 17):
FFA Members: $425
Non-Members: $475

Click Here to Register 

Registration for the FilmEx Summit includes:

  • Pass for all Summit sessions and workshops
  • Keynote Dinner on Thursday evening
  • Group lunches on Thursday and Friday
  • Happy Hour on Friday evening
  • Closing Keynote Brunch on Saturday morning
  • Lifetime access to private Community on FFA's Member Hub before, during, and after the conference
  • Lifetime access to online resources and presentations from the Summit
  • And more!

Please note participants are responsible for breakfast on Thursday and Friday, and dinner on Friday, as well as lodging and transportation to/from the conference.


The full agenda and curriculum for the conference will be announced in early June. 
Brief Agenda (times are an estimate only)

Wednesday, June 21

7:00PM - 10:00PM: Informal gathering at The Godfrey’s Rooftop Bar

Thursday, June 22
9:00AM - 5:00PM: Programming and lunch at the Gene Siskel Film Center
7:00PM - 10:00PM: Opening Dinner with keynote at Chicago Cultural Center

Friday, June 23
9:00AM - 5:00PM: Programming and lunch at Facets
5:00PM - 7:00PM: Happy hour at Facets

Saturday, June 24
9:00AM - 10:00AM: Bagels + Coffee at Music Box Theatre
10:00AM - 11:00AM: Closing Keynote speaker at Music Box Theatre

Please note participants are responsible for breakfast on Thursday and Friday, and dinner on Friday, as well as lodging and transportation to/from the conference.


Sustainability is not passion. Nor is it growth. Both are key ingredients to a sustainable organization and field, but neither can stand in for the greater need: to build equitable and inclusive structures that outlast an organization’s current leadership. Sustainability must be addressed on multiple fronts and the health of our organizations depend on our ability to make strategic decisions with all of these competing needs in mind.

Radical Re-Imagining

Survival of our field is only as good as our willingness to grow in the face of continual change. The independent film exhibition sector has a legacy of being at the forefront of cinema, of centering audience discovery, and of holding space for new ways of thinking. And yet, our organizational growth is struggling in the face of great upheaval. It is imperative that we dig deep, reassess our current strategies, and look outside our existing structures for new learning opportunities.

Evolving Leadership

Our field faces real economic and labor challenges, which stem in part from a history of scarcity in arts funding and unrealistic expectations of non-profit workers. Funders prioritize growth, audiences expect expansion, and workers get left behind. The future of our industry requires us to let go of the past, of systems built by limited resources, and of the stagnant phrase “that’s how we do things here.” We have expansive opportunities as we look ahead to realign our priorities as a community and within our own organizations, starting with the way we lead.

Travel and Lodging

We recommend staying near the Chicago Loop. All the Summit venues will be accessible by foot, public transit, or private car/rideshare. We do not have an official hotel, but recommend the below for their proximity:

  • The Godfrey Hotel (The FFA Team will be staying here)
    Approx 20min walk to the Gene Siskel and Chicago Cultural Center
    Sign up on their website to access their Member Rates, starting at $250/night for a King
  • theWit Hotel (part of Hilton Honors)
    Approx 3min walk to the Gene Siskel 
    Rates starting at $314/night
  • Cambria Hotel (part of Choice Hotels)
    Approx 1min walk to the Gene Siskel
    Rates starting at $269/night

Flying into Chicago?

Both O'Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW) offer public transit to the Downtown Loop. Please plan for an hour of travel time on public transit or via private taxi/rideshare.

We encourage participants to coordinate arrival and departure transportation with fellow attendees via the Summit Community on our Member Hub. 


Chicago is easily accessible from many parts of the Midwest using Amtrak or Metra. Be sure to check those out as affordable alternatives to driving or flying.

Accessibility and Venues

Tentative venues listed below:

  • Facets Cinema
  • Gene Siskel Film Center
  • Music Box Theatre
  • Chicago Cultural Center

As venues and the conference schedule are finalized, we will update this section with specific accessibility information for each venue.

As needed, FFA will work with participants to provide accessibility accommodations such as but not limited to captioning, ASL interpretation, and quiet rooms. Please reach out directly to the Executive Director, Barbara Twist, to discuss accommodations. She can be reached:

For additional information about our accessibility plans and mission, please click here (Link to URL:

Programming Partners


Why are we segmenting the conference like this? We want to create a dynamic, safe space for peers facing similar challenges to connect. As an executive director or key decision-maker, you are tasked with balancing the organization's mission and its budget, which can be very challenging. Creating opportunities for your development as a leader is critical to the success of our field. 

Will there be a Summit for my role? FFA hopes to plan an annual Summit with a rotating focus, so the right folks can be in the room together, getting to the heart of the issues, and developing tangible, actionable next steps to tackle our industry's immediate and systemic issues.

FilmEx comprises the semi-annual conference and seminars run by Film Festival Alliance, virtually and in-person. The Summit will be its first large-scale in-person conference since its gathering at the 2020 Art House Convergence conference.