The Reeling Film Festival is Bolder Than Ever in Its Fourth Decade


The Reeling Film Festival is Bolder Than Ever in Its Fourth Decade

The Reeling Film Festival has always featured a variety of genres that demonstrate the vast diversity of work being produced, from award-winning international feature films to social documentaries to experimental shorts. As a result, has become one of Chicago’s most important cultural events. It also draws audiences from around the Midwest who see the as the pinnacle of their cinematic year. And now, for its 40th anniversary, the second longest-running film festival of its kind, Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, opens September 22 at the Music Box Theatre!

There’s so much to know, and I know the excitement is hard to contain for festivalgoers. So here’s an overview of the films and highlights for each week.

The Program

This year’s festival, which opens on September 22 at the Music Box Theatre and runs through October 2 in person and virtually from September 30–October 6, features 51 programs, including 37 feature films, 1 web series, and 13 short film programs, with films coming from 26 different countries. The Slate will be shown at Landmark Century Centre Cinemas from September 23 to 29 and at Chicago Filmmakers from September 30 to October 2.

The Highlights


The U.S. premiere of THE SHINY SHRIMPS STRIKE BACK, directed by Cédric Le Gallo and Maxime Govare, will take place on September 22’s Opening Night. Three years after France’s motley water polo team captured the hearts of viewers, we dive back into the pool with this wet but adorable bunch. The sequel follows a ragtag rainbow water polo team from France who become stuck in a homosexual conversion camp in while on their way to the Tokyo Gay Games. Due to Russia’s homophobic laws, the film was shot in Ukraine right before the war.

Following that, the tender story of a lesbian in middle school struggling with unrequited first love, ERIN’S GUIDE TO KISSING GIRLS by Canadian director Julianna Notten, will have its world premiere at this year’s Reeling. At the same time, two of Hong Kong filmmaker Scud’s final films, APOSTLES, about a self-proclaimed Socratic apostle and his 12 male disciples, and BODYSHOP, about the restless ghost of a soldier who travels the world inhabiting a series of bodies, celebrate their U.S. premieres alongside THE SHINY SHRIMPS STRIKE BACK.

The lesbian film series DYKE DELICIOUS, which aired at Chicago Filmmakers for several years, marks its return with four shorts programs curated by series founder Sharon Zurek, including the Closing Night program “I See You,” which features five short fiction films from the United States, Estonia, and Norway. The closing screening and three other Dyke Delicious events will be shown at Chicago Filmmakers during the festival’s second weekend.

The critically acclaimed epic TWO EYES (U.S.), written and directed by Travis Fine, will be screened as Reeling’s Narrative Centerpiece. It is a cinematic triptych that portrays three characters through three different periods and co-stars trans non-binary pioneer Kate Bornstein.
This year’s Film features a broad selection of fictional queer romantic stories to get lost in. Nonetheless, the program offers many moving and true stories in the form of documentaries. The documentary centerpiece is JIMMY IN SAIGON (U.S.), director Peter McDowell’s personal journey to find secrets behind his brother Jimmy’s death in Vietnam during the height of the war.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

The last couple of years have been challenging for spectators, especially with all the constraints we must adhere to. This year, fret not! For entry, patrons are no longer required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test. However, masks are still required for screenings (while not actively eating or drinking). These guidelines may be revised to reflect the current recommendations of the local health department.
For its four-decade run, this year will have for everybody. Things that are simply guilty pleasures, artsy stuff that critics will love, and much more. Everything is so excellent that you can stand behind any film selection.

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