About Us


our mission

The Cincinnati Film Society’s mission is to embrace, inform and promote cultural diversity through film, exploring its history and role in how different cultures have impacted and contributed to society. With an emphasis on the future of our mission by investing in young and new filmmakers, we continue to educate, encourage and support diversity by creating filmmaking opportunities and awareness through our programs and associations:


  • CFS: Sister City Filmmaker Exchange in partnership with CincinnatiUSA Sister City Association
  • Filmmaker Residency
  • Youth Education: Media Literacy, Arts & Sciences, and Film Classes
  • Dale Stevens Critics Award
  • The Greater Cincinnati Emerging Filmmaker Award
  • 35mm Series and Project
  • Women Behind the Scenes Lecture
  • OutReels Cincinnati movie festival


The Cincinnati Film Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.


our history

The Cincinnati Film Society began in 1979 when Cincinnati Post entertainment editor and film critic Dale Stevens placed a few lines in the paper suggesting that anyone interested in starting a local film society attend a meeting at the Hyde Park Community Methodist Church on the corner of Grace and Observatory. The first few meetings were held there, the initial board (the founding members) was created and the CFS incorporated. In 1989, after Stevens retired as a film critic, he accepted the position of director of the Cincinnati Film Society, which he held until his death in 1997.

Throughout its 36 year history, the CFS has screened hundreds of films and brought many filmmakers to Cincinnati to present their work. Among these have been Michael Moore with his first documentary,  Roger and Me, John Sayles with Matewan, Gregory Nava with his Oscar-winning El Norte, Wayne Wang with Dim Sum, Tom Hayes with People and the Land and  Cincinnati’s own Steve Gebhardt with Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music and Escalator Over the Hill. In 1992, the CFS presented a retrospective of the work of the British filmmaker Lindsay Anderson, who discussed each work with the audience during the ten-day long event. Other retrospectives with the filmmaker in attendance included avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. The Society also opposed local censorship; when commercial theaters were pressured to not show certain films in Cincinnati, the CFS stepped up to present them.  Additionally the Society’s many social events have stimulated membership (the film-themed Halloween parties at the Netherland Plaza Hotel are legendary).

The Society has often co-sponsored films with other arts groups, including the Art Academy of Cincinnati, the former Arts Consortium, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Jewish Federation, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, CityBeat, Conference For Women, Contemporary Arts Center, Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission, Images Center for Photography, Media Bridges, Media Working Group,  Hebrew Union College, University of Cincinnati Film Society, Wright State University and Xavier University.

The Cincinnati Film Society has been funded in part by grants from the City of Cincinnati, the Fine Arts Fund and the Ohio Arts Council.


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