Friday, September 24th, 2021

Queerguru’s pick of MUST SEE FILMS at Chicago’s REELING FILM FESTIVAL


Right in the middle of LGBTQ+ Film Festival season comes one of the ‘grand dames’ of the circuit.  Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival is the second longest-running film festival of its kind and has just kicked off with its 39th Editiion.

Not only has Reeling become one of the most important cultural events for Chicagoans, it also attracts LGBTQ+ people from throughout the Midwest who consider the festival to be the highlight of their cinematic year.   As is the norm these days this is a now a hybrid Festival and there is a whole program of new films that can be viewed online : you will need to check the availabilty individually as somw are geo-blocked to Illinos, whereas ome, like the Shorts Progs are available worldwide.

Its a stunningly diverse and well-curated selection of queer films that cover the whole LGBTQ+ spectrum which QUEERGURU have viewed at length to come uo with our personal selection of MUST SEE MOVIES OF THE FEST.


BEING BEBE: Newbie filmmaker EMILY BRANHAM took a shine to BeBe aka MARSHALL NGWA back in 2006 before the world came to know about him.  Then the tall good-looking man from Cameron in West Africa was living in Minneapolis  Minnesota and doing amateur drag in a local gay bar. Even then he stood out as his costumes and performances were heavily immersed and inspired by his African Culture. After Bebe was the first-ever winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race she had a roller coaster life of rags to riches and back again which she shares with disarming honesty that makes this doc so compelling and such a sheer joy to watch.


BOULEVARD: A Hollywood Story. In 1950 DICKSON HUGHES and RICHARD STAPLEY, two young songwriters and romantic partners approached  GLORIA SWANSON with a new Musical they had written just for her.  The 50+-year-old star still glowing in the reception of SUNSET BOULEVARD FILM, had been champing at the bitt as offers of film roles had simply dried up. So she persuaded the couple to change their plans and write a musical based on Sunset Boulevard for her to recreate Norma Desmond.  This previously untold story, the latest fascinating doc from Emmy Award Winner Jeffrey Schwarz is what happened to that musical and also the men’s love affair 



FIREBIRD is an enormously satisfying and complete film.  It tells a full tale of life, and love, and loss from its beginning right up to an end that could never need or want a sequel.  PEETER REBANE‘S story of two Soviet military recruits, a pilot officer and a private, falling in love on a military base during the 70s cold war, is based on a true story. Skeptical as we are about stories ‘based on’ truth, people’s ages and weights on dating profiles might make that same claim, there is an undeniably human element to this story that grips the heart and mind with a sense of both individuality and history.



T.J. PARSELL’S fascinating new feature-length documentary INVISIBLE  shares the tales of how a group of queer women are still dealing with such a persistent and pernicious form of homophobia that hardly anyone outside the world of country music are ever aware of.  He manages to interview a whole roster of female singer/songwriters and although they include a couple of household names such as LINDA RONSTADT and EMMY LOU-HARRIS most of them are unknown talents to us outside of the industry.   One after another they share similar tales, that whilst the chances of women breaking into this heavy machismo business were very slim, but if they were lesbian too, they were non-existent.


JUMP DARLING : When you reach the end of the road you are on, what can you do? There are two answers, you stop or change direction. In CLORIS LEACHMAN’s final film made prior to her death, both these alternates are explored, and the poignancy is inescapable. Leachman plays Grams, the aging grandmother grown tired, frail, and distanced from the passions that engulfed her earlier years. Dreams of joining the ice capades are barely a memory. Facing a slow exit from her life, or the inertia of a retirement home, she grapples with what little sovereignty she has left. It is an exquisite swan song for one helluva wonderfully actress and person 



MY FIONA Is there ever a good time to sit down and watch a movie whose description begins with the words “Following the death of her best friend…”? Turns out there is especially after a few weeks of self-distancing when we are all were really starting to miss our friends. Jane and Fiona are besties, they work together in their own start-up, they met their partners together. When Fiona commits suicide without warning and without a goodbye note Jane, her wife, her mother, her therapist and her son are all left trying to find an answer as to why it happened.  



POTATO DREAMS OF AMERICA queer filmmaker WES HURLEY’S excellent autobiographical tale of his journey from Russia as a young gay immigrant is the perfect choice for the opening night gala.  Maybe a tad patchy in parts but it’s a joyous wee film with some wonderful surprises like an adorable JONATHAN BENNETT as Jesus and an almost unrecognizable LEA DELARIA giving a scene-stealing performance.



QUEENS OF THE REVOLUTION:  is the very compelling real life story of a very brave and fierce set of queens of Mejumje a cultural center in Santa Clara that paved the road for LGBTQ+ rights in Cuba that win both our hearts and admiration. They put an entire new meaning to the whole concept of fighting for our rights,



A new film from the Canadian queer auteur BRUCE LA BRUCE is always an event. . LaBruce is one of the leaders of the QUEERCORE MOVEMENT which is. noted for the avant-garde and unapologetic gay answer to the punk movement. That is self-evident even in movies like Saint Narcisse that although is as mainstream as La Bruce will ever go, still bears all the usual signature hallmarks of his more fringe work.  E.G.  there is plenty of nudity, incest, an obsession with religious themes, and with Saint Sebastian who is often recognized by the queer community as ‘one of us’.



The Sixth Reel : We think it is no secret that the multi-talent that is Charles Busch was born in the wrong era.  He is the perfect epitome of a glamorous Hollywood star of the 1930s and 1940s: he doesn’t just look the part, but he totally lives it.  So convincingly with all the mannerisms and melodrama, watching his new movie. we revel in turning the clock back for the next 90 minutes 


Reeling: The 39th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival
September 23 - October 7



PLUS to read full reviews of these movies......and over 1250 other queer films .... go to http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com

Posted by queerguru  at  11:43


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