Beyondmedia Education

Beyondmedia Education, a nonprofit organization, was founded by filmmaker Salome Chasnoff in 2000. The organization was active from 2000 to 2013. During these years, Beyondmedia dedicated its time to documenting Chicago community organizing and facilitating women and youth media literacy, production, and activism workshops. Beyondmedia’s mission was to collaborate with women, youth, and other under-served and under-represented communities to help them tell their stories and to organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Beyondmedia Education became a key organization for youth across Chicago, where they could learn to make videos and other media using their own voices, analysis, and critique to influence the issues affecting their lives and have their voices be in the public narrative. Staff at Beyondmedia partnered with a number of local community organizations and schools throughout Chicagoland and abroad to hold workshops and educational programs where women and youth were walked through the entire media making process. Participants learned basic media literacy and production skills, as well as how to turn their groundwork into tangible resources for outreach and education in the public sphere. With facilitation from Beyondmedia staff, women and youth participants produced an extensive collection of documentary based films and videos covering a range of topics, including LGBTQIA+ youth advocacy, disability rights, women’s incarceration, Chicago’s sex-trade and the lives of former sex workers, anti-violence advocacy, gender equality and sexuality, and HIV/AIDS awareness. Some of the women and youth involved in these programs were brought on to be staff at Beyondmedia and have continued to be outspoken activists and educators. Beyondmedia’s acclaimed documentaries, which include Can LGBTQ + School = Safe?, A Fish Almost Eaten by a Shark, Turning a Corner, Beyond Disability: The FeFe Stories, and H.I.V.: Hey, It’s Viral, have screened widely at festivals and in classrooms. They continue to be used by educators, activists, and community organizers around the world.


Beyondmedia’s Women and Prison Program:

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“Voices In Time” Installation at Las Manos Gallery, 2004.

The Women and Prison program was formed in response to the dramatic increase in incarceration among women in the 1990s. Beyondmedia worked on a series of projects that drew attention to women’s incarceration, working closely with other community organizations like Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), treatment and re-entry programs, and restorative justice programs. The first video produced by the Women and Prison program, 2000’s What We Leave Behind, was made in partnership with CLAIM’s Visible Voices program and the women of Grace House. The video focused on educating young women and girls to the harsh realities of life in prison. Beyondmedia collaborated with CLAIM again to produce a second film, Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo, released in 2004. The film coincided with a gallery show at Las Manos Gallery in Andersonville featuring artwork from incarcerated women across the country. Through the Women and Prison program, Beyondmedia began working with Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART) and produced the documentary, Turning a Corner in 2006, which told stories of people involved in Chicago’s sex trade in an effort to raise awareness of the issue and system injustices to promote reforms. 

Q’d In Media:

In addition to the Women and Prison program, Beyondmedia had other prominent programs, including Q’d in Media, which worked with queer and allied youth to make their lives and their concerns visible to a larger public. The Q’d in media program produced three films: A Fish Almost Eaten By a Shark (2003), Can LGBTQ + School = Safe?(2005), and HIV: Hey It’s Viral (2009). Each of these films became educational tools for other LGBTQIA+ youth, allies, parents, teachers, public agencies, and schools. Can LGBTQ + School = Safe? included a two-part video/DVD with a study guide, an interactive website, downloadable art, writing, and audio interviews with queer students. Similarly, the HIV: Hey It’s Viral! DVD included bonus features explaining the biology of HIV, sexual education relating to HIV, personal stories of young people living with HIV/AIDS, a workbook for educators, an action guide for activists, and educational visual diagrams. Beyondmedia partnered with local organizations such as Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation (CESO), Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Howard Brown Health Center, and About Face Theatre for the facilitation of youth workshops, media productions, and the creation of educational programs in association with Q’d in Media. 

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Girls! Action! Media!:

Beyondmedia Education’s third program was Girls! Action! Media!. Girls! Action! Media! followed a similar structure to other Beyondmedia programs, partnering with local programs and facilitating educational media workshops. Girls! Action! Media! partnered with programs for under-served girls and young women. The workshops served as safe spaces for the participants to discuss issues, develop as community activists, and learn media arts and technology skills that would be used to produce several film and arts projects. Notably, the Empowered FeFes, a group of young women with disabilities, were one of the groups that participated in Beyondmedia’s Girls! Action! Media! workshops. The FeFes (slang for female) met at Access Living, Chicago’s center for Independent Living. The group was coordinated by disability rights activist Susan Nussbaum. Over the course of three years, the group produced three films: Beyond Disability: The FeFe Stories (2004),Why They Gotta Do Me Like That? (2006), and Doin’ It: Sex, Disability, and Videotape (2007). Separately, these films focus on growing up with disabilities, exploring sexuality freely while being disabled, and bullying at school. Beyond Disability: The FeFe Stories won two awards at SUPERFEST, the premiere International Disability Film Festival in 2008. The FeFe Stories DVD came with a teacher’s guide for use in classroom settings and became a programmatic exemplar on disability awareness across the United States and internationally in countries like Korea and Japan. The Empowered FeFes gave presentations on disability awareness to audiences of educators across Chicago.

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Throughout its existence, Beyondmedia Education remained committed to the free expression and respect of all voices. Media produced by the organization focused on centering the voices of people who are often under-represented and misrepresented in mainstream media. The collection of videos and films produced by Beyondmedia Education highlight social issues that remain relevant today told by those experiencing these issues firsthand. In recalling the work of women and youth at Beyondmedia, founder Salome Chasnoff has said, “They showed time and time again that those who are excluded from discussions about ‘the problem’ were usually the ones holding its solution.” 


For further exploration, please visit 

Watch Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Salome Chasnoff

Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Beyondmedia’s Women and Prison Program

Our complete collection from Beyondmedia Education can be found here.

Dates: 2000-2013 

Selected Videography: 

What We Leave Behind

Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo

Turning A Corner

A Fish Almost Eaten by a Shark

HIV, Hey it’s Viral

Empowered Fe Fes

Doin’ It: Sex, Disability, and Videotape

Girl’s Theory: Me-Search Re-Search



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