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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

10 Groovy LGBTQ+ Movies to See at the 36th Reeling Film Festival

Tomorrow night Reeling 2018: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival begins its 36th year of presenting movies that celebrate the amazing diversity of the queer experience. During the last few weeks I've watched many of this year's featured films, and below I have selected my 10 favorites in order of preference (click on a title for more information).

Reeling runs September 20 to 30, and its main venue will once again be Landmark's Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark). For advance tickets, festival passes and a complete schedule of films, go to

1) Canary (Kanarie)
Directed by Christiaan Olwagen
South Africa (122 minutes)
I fell in love with this dramedy about Johan, a young Boy George fan who is drafted in 1985 and accepted into the Kanaries, the South African army's traveling choir. Actor Schalk Bezuidenhout is outstanding as Johan as is Hannes Otto (as his love interest) and Germandt Geldenhuys (as his flamboyant friend). I highly recommend that everyone go see this wonderful film.

Show time: 7:00 pm, Friday, September 21

2) Riot
Directed by Jeffrey Walker
Australia (106 minutes)
This compelling drama provides an interesting history lesson as it tells the true story of the courageous and passionate activists who organized Australia's first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978. The entire cast is excellent, but I especially enjoyed the performances of Damon Herriman as gay rights pioneer Lance Gowland and Xavier Samuel as his partner, Dr. Jim Walker.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Saturday, September 22

3) Studio 54
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
USA (98 minutes)
Tyrnauer - whose previous films include Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood and Citizen Jane: Battle for the City - takes us back to 1977-80 in this sad but fascinating documentary about the rise and fall of the infamous NYC celebrity disco. Co-owner Ian Schrager opens up about his friendship with the late Steve Rubell, whom he created the nightclub with, and Tyrnauer brilliantly illuminates their story with an array of vintage photos and film footage.

Show time: 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm, Sunday, September 30, at Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge)

4) My Big Gay Italian Wedding
Directed by Alessandro Genovesi
Italy (89 minutes)
Inspired by Anthony J. Wilkinson's Off-Broadway play of the same name, this feel-good romantic comedy tells the tale of Antonio and Paolo, a gay couple who are persuaded by Antonio's mother to hold their wedding in Civita, the beautiful Italian village where he grew up. The performances are all great - especially Cristiano Caccamo and Salvatore Esposito as the two leads - and any film that features a musical number of the disco hit, "Don't Leave Me This Way," scores points with me.

Show time: 7:00 pm, Monday, September 24

5) The Queens
Directed by Mark Saxenmeyer
USA (99 minutes)
This entertaining documentary follows several female impersonators as they compete in the 2011 Miss Continental Pageant, which was first held in 1980. While providing a detailed history of the competition through interviews with many of its fabulous contestants, Saxenmeyer also does a terrific job of building the tension as we wonder who will ultimately be crowned the winner.

Show time: 9:00 pm, Monday, September 24

6) Buddies
Written and directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
USA (81 minutes)
Shown in a new digital restoration, this moving 1985 drama was the first feature film to deal with the AIDS pandemic. It covers three months in the life of David, a young gay man who volunteers to be a "buddy" to another gay man dying of AIDS.

Show time: 9:15 pm, Monday, September 24

7) Kill the Monsters
Written and directed by Ryan Lonergan
USA (90 minutes)
A hunky, hot polyamorous threesome (played by Lonergan, Garrett McKechnie and Jack Ball) embark on a road trip from New York City to California when one of them develops a mysterious "feeling of malaise". It's a weird, wild and sexy ride of a movie featuring terrific performances by all three men and a scene-stealing Julia Campanelli as Leni, their German lesbian neighbor who plays a fierce game of poker.

Show time: 9:15 pm, Wednesday, September 26

8) Alaska Is a Drag
Written and directed by Shaz Bennett
USA (88 minutes)
In this engaging dramedy, Martin L. Washington Jr. shines in his role as Leo, a young man who dreams of becoming an international drag superstar while working in an Alaskan fish cannery. The supporting cast includes a handsome Matt Dallas as the new guy in town and comedian Margaret Cho as the owner of the town's only gay bar.

Show time: 5:00 pm, Sunday, September 23

9) Freelancers Anonymous
Directed by Sonia Sebastián
USA (81 minutes)
This quirky Chicago-based comedy stars co-writer Lisa Cordileone as Billie, a young unemployed lesbian who finds herself pulled in two different directions as she deals with her own wedding plans while developing an app with a group of other out-of-work women (and one guy). Cordileone delivers an appealing performance, and the supporting cast - which includes Jennifer Bartels, Megan Cavanagh, Cassandra Blair and Alexandra Billings - provides many laughs.

Show time: 7:00 pm, Thursday, September 20, at the Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln)

10) Snapshots
Directed by Melanie Mayron
USA (91 minutes)
Grandma is not the only one with a secret in this well-acted drama about three generations of women who spend a summer weekend together at Gran's remote lakeside home. A fine supporting cast - which includes Brett Dier (Jane the Virgin) - elevates the film's flashback sequences, but the movie is most enjoyable when 86-year-old Oscar nominee Piper Laurie (Carrie, Twin Peaks) is front and center as matriarch Rose.

Show time: 5:15 pm, Saturday, September 22


john said...

Love your blog. Your work keeps us so informed and I always pay attention to your recommendations.

Deep Dish said...

Thanks for reading DEEP DISH, John. I appreciate your kind comments.