Onion City is one of the premiere international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video.

Onion City was founded in the 1980s by the Experimental Film Coalition. Chicago Filmmakers assumed responsibility for the festival in 2001, and expanded the size and opened it up to video work as well as film. Onion City presents 8-10 programs over four days in Chicago and features roughly 60-70 works from around the world. Aside from the competition programs, there are occasional special presentations of new or older films of note or guest presentations. Screenings take place at Chicago Filmmakers or virtually, if necessary.

The mission of Onion City is to provide local and regional audiences with an opportunity to view a wide variety of contemporary experimental works, focused on artistic excellence but also with an eye towards representing differing styles, forms, and nationalities.

For more information contact Jackie Robbins at onioncity@chicagofilmmakers.org.

Onion City is a juried festival with cash prizes.

***Entry Fees***

Early Deadline: $25 ($20 student) for the first entry and $5 for each additional entry by the same entrant.

Regular Deadline: $30 ($25 student) for the first entry and $10 for each additional entry by the same entrant.

Late Deadline: $35 ($30 student) for the first entry and $10 for each additional entry by the same entrant.

Any experimental works completed between 2019 and 2022 are eligible.
No length restrictions. Chicago premieres are highly preferred but not always

***Eligible Formats***
Preview Screeners
Entries should be submitted for preview as an online streaming video, either on FilmFreeway or via a password-protected streaming URL (such as Vimeo). Contact Onion City if you prefer to submit film prints for preview - please do not submit film prints prior to notification as in-theatre screenings may not be possible, depending on public health considerations at the time of the festival.

Exhibition Formats
Acceptable formats for VIRTUAL SCREENING include: Digital File.

Acceptable formats for IN-THEATRE SCREENING (when possible) include: DCP, Digital File, 16mm film and Super-8mm film.

Foreign language work must be subtitled in English.

By entering the festival, the entrant authorizes a public screening of
the work in the festival and agrees to provide an exhibition copy for
the period of the festival. Should the distribution rights for the
work change by the time the festival takes place, it is still the
responsibility of the entrant to provide an exhibition copy to the
festival without charge. Once a film/tape is submitted for entry, it
may not be withdrawn. Additionally, the entrant authorizes the
festival to make copies of their preview copy for press use.

If your entry is accepted for exhibition you will be notified by February 10, 2022. If your entry is not accepted for exhibition you will be notified by February 17, 2022. These dates are approximate and may change.

***Receipt of Exhibition Copy: February 24, 2022***
If your entry is accepted for exhibition, your exhibition film or digital copy should be delivered digitally or arrive in our office by February 24, 2022. Please inform us if this will be a problem. Exhibition copies (physical media) will be returned to the entrant by April 7, 2022 unless we are requested in writing otherwise. Transshipments of exhibition copies to other U.S. festivals must be requested in writing. Onion City cannot transship to other international festivals.

Exhibition copies must be sent to the festival prepaid. Return
shipping via UPS or US Mail will be covered by the festival.
Additional charges for express shipping or transshipments to foreign
film festivals must be paid by the entrant or the recipient. The
festival cannot accept nor assume responsibility for damage or loss of
materials while in transit. All film reels, cans, discs, and cases
must be labeled with the title of the entry. Please do not use fiber
filled shipping envelopes; fibers damage media and equipment.

***International Shipping***
Foreign entries must be shipped prepaid. Exhibition copies must be
sent directly to the festival office with all transportation charges,
delivery fees, and any duties or taxes prepaid by the shipper. The
entrant will have to bear financial responsibility in the event that
the festival is charged any brokerage fees. Please be sure to include
all proper customs documentation. We recommend that the following
declaration be printed on the outside of the package and on customs
COMMERCIAL VALUE. Exhibition copies will be returned to the entrant at
the expense of the festival.

Overall Rating
  • Alexandra Kaucher

    So fun! Zach the festival programmer, curated a really cohesive group of films. A great festival to be a part of.

    April 2022
  • Philip Thompson

    Such an amazing festival! Zach Vanes has such a great eye for finding some great experimental films, and the category programming had such a great flow, each film really had a moment to shine. A great way to celebrate some fresh new works.

    April 2022
  • Sid Branca

    Onion City is great! I really enjoy this festival, it's an excellent showcase of video art and experimental film -- it was a thrill to get to share my own work as a part of it this time through.

    April 2022
  • Kathryn Mockler

    Excellent festival. Organizers were terrific. Love the work in the festival. Thrilled to be a part of it.

    June 2021
  • Dana Duff

    2021: This was such a high quality festival: excellent films and programming, smart Q & A's. I appreciated having a few days to see the films. It was great to have a chance to interact with other filmmakers. Zach Vanes is brilliant. Loved the experience!

    June 2021