Reeling 2023: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival Celebrates Its 41st Edition

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Reeling 2023: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival Celebrates Its 41st Edition

The 41st year of the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, Reeling, unveiled its upcoming edition’s schedule and opening night details, running from September 21st to October 8th, 2023. With abundant content to explore, choosing a starting point may be overwhelming. This guide provides essential information about the event, including viewing locations and insights into the rich history of the world’s second-oldest LGBTQ+ film festival.

Reeling is an initiative by Chicago Filmmakers and has consistently stood as one of the leading platforms for highlighting revolutionary LGBTQ+ cinema and experimental and avant-garde film-making. From internationally acclaimed full-length features to thought-provoking documentaries and innovative short films, Reeling has consistently curated an array of genres that vividly showcase a wide variety of creative outputs. Over time, Reeling has evolved into a pivotal cultural experience for Chicago residents. It draws LGBTQ+ individuals from the Midwest who view the festival as the pinnacle of their cinematic calendar, making it a cherished annual highlight.

Reeling 2023 Banner AARP ONLY

This year, the global LGBTQ+ film festival marks its opening night by showcasing the Chicago debut of “The Mattachine Family.” The event is scheduled for Thursday, September 21st, at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.), and will include a reception where the esteemed writer and director Andy Vallentine will be a special guest.

Written by Andy Vallentine and Danny Vallentine, with executive production overseen by the acclaimed actor and director Zack Braff, “The Mattachine Family” narrates a tale centered on family, whether formed by choice or discovered through circumstances. When their foster child reconnects with his biological mother, gay couple Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo Di Pace) grapples with their different ways of handling the separation, leading them to confront differing viewpoints on the essence of a family.

Drawing inspiration from the personal journeys of director/writer Andy Vallentine and writer Danny Vallentine as spouses and prospective parents, “The Mattachine Family” weaves a narrative that underscores the timeless themes of love, family, and community.

In addition to this remarkable creation, the event presents a lineup of over 40 full-length films and 12 collections of short films during the subsequent 10-day period. The screenings will take place at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark St.) and Chicago Filmmakers (1326 W. Hollywood Ave.), and virtual streaming options will be available until October 8th.

What Was the Origin of Reeling?

In April 1981, the first Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival unfolded within the confines of Chicago Filmmakers’ modest 90-seat screening room on West Hubbard Street. With nearly every showing selling out, the festival garnered an eager response from audiences, who expressed a desire for further editions. The festival’s fervent reception prompted Chicago Filmmakers to uphold the event as an annual tradition, resulting in its enduring success.

Reeling's Mission

Reeling’s core objective is to acknowledge the significant creative contributions of LGBTQ+ filmmakers to our cultural landscape. It entails educating the broader public and fostering awareness about LGBTQ+ concerns. The festival also delves into the historical aspects of LGBTQ+ cinema, encompassing the prevalent stereotypes that have historically pervaded this domain. It aims to counteract these stereotypes by presenting authentic, substantial, and diverse portrayals of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community.

The festival serves as a distinctive occasion for commemorating these identities, catering to a community often misrepresented or overlooked in mainstream film and television.

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