Reeling, Chicago’s LGBTQ+ film festival, returns this week for its 34th outing. With a slate of more than 30 features and dozens of short films, there’s something to be found for every taste between opening-night drag comedy Hurricane Bianca, screening Thursday, September 22 at the Music Box Theatre, and closing night’s true-crime gay-porn drama King Cobra on September 29. We’ve picked five of the fest’s most promising selections. All of these picks will screen at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema.
Closet Monster Connor Jessup (American Crime) stars in Canadian writer-director Stephen Dunn’s debut feature, a coming-out story with surrealist elements (including a pet hamster with the voice of Isabella Rossellini). (Sept 23, 7pm)
Slash Teenagers Neil (Michael Johnston) and Julia (Hannah Marks) connect over their passion for writing erotic fanfic in this comedy from writer-director Clay Liford, described by Variety as “an effortlessly engaging dramedy that somehow manages to sustain an air of buoyant sweetness even while repeatedly referencing erotic fantasies and sexual anxieties.” (Sept 24, 5pm)
Upstairs Inferno This 2015 documentary, an award recipient at LGBT film festivals around the country, looks at the 1973 arson fire that killed 32 people at the UpStairs Lounge, a New Orleans gay bar; it’s narrated by novelist Christopher Rice. (Sept 25, 7pm)
bwoy Broadway star Anthony Rapp plays a grieving father who becomes infatuated with a man he meets on a hookup site for Jamaican men in this twisty thriller. Rapp, a native of Joliet, will appear to introduce the world premiere screening. (Sept 26, 7pm)
First Girl I Loved Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s sullen Xanthippe) plays a high-schooler caught between her crush on softball star Sasha and her male best friend’s crush on her in this writer-director Kerem Sanga’s feature, which took the Next Audience Award at Sundance last winter. (Sept 27, 7:15pm)
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