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Five films we can't wait to see at Chicago's Reeling Film Festival

Written by
Madeline Wolfson

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival returns for its 33rd year this week with a packed and wonderfully diverse line up of features, docs and shorts. The festival offers highly anticipated studio features as well as a fantastic assortment of international and U.S. documentaries and films by new and first-time directors you won’t get to see anywhere else. The festival runs September 17–24 and packs in nearly 40 features and more than 60 shorts. We’ve picked five we can’t wait to see from this rich selection to get you started. Plus our own Theater and LGBT senior editor Kris Vire moderates a Q&A with Freeheld writer Ron Nyswaner on Monday following the 7pm screening of the film starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, so there are plenty of reasons to get rolling to Reeling. All five of these screenings take place at Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N Clark St.

Dir. Pablo Garcia Perez De Lara & Marc Serena. 2015.
This gorgeously shot slice-of-life documentary following transgender woman Tchinda and the community of São Vicente, Cape Verde is the doc you won’t want to miss. And if you have already started forming expectations of the kind of hardships and intolerance this film may reveal about some far away community, prepare to be delighted in just how wrong you are. This slow and visually stunning documentary reveals a society, culture and event as beautiful as they are unexpected. As Tchinda Andrade and her friends prepare over the month leading up to Carnival, we learn just how deeply respected she is by the community as they come together to make something from nothing. (Sept 19, 5pm. $12)

Beautiful Something
Dir. Joseph Graham. 2015.
Beautiful Something is really just that. It’s a visually spectacular look at four very different queer men and the men in their lives that humanizes the gay experience through complex and diverse portrayals, presenting these characters without stereotypes and with great depth. The film itself comments on themes of lust, heartbreak and art as we see these men intertwine (plotwise and literally) over the course of one evening. All of the emotions and impulses are universally human; these men just happen to be queer and that’s what allows the film to transcend cliché and truly resonate. (Sept 23, 7pm. $12)

From This Day Forward
Dir. Sharon Shattuck. 2015.
Documentarian Sharon Shattuck’s deeply personal From This Day Forward is an absorbing portrait of her transgender father, who transitioned from Michael to Trisha when Shattuck was a teenager. Shattuck uses family photos, home movies and her dad's art to reconstruct Trisha’s coming out in small-town Michigan. But it’s the frank present-day interviews with Trisha and Sharon’s mother, Marcia, about how their marriage survived that most compel. (Sept 20, 12:15pm. $8) – Kris Vire 

You & I
Dir. Nils Bökamp. 2014.
Best friends Philip (English, gay) and Jonas (German, straight) head out on a road trip through the countryside in the German dramedy You & I, but their coyly flirtatious friendship takes a turn after they pick up a handsome young Polish hitchhiker. The characters tend to swap languages mid-sentence; the German and Polish are subtitled, but with the range of accents you may wish the English was too. Still, the film is appealingly sensual and dreamily paced. (Sept 22, 9:15pm. $12) – KV

Dir. Roland Emmerich. 2015.
Even before anyone's seen it (it premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, two days before it screens at Reeling), Stonewall has already reaped criticism based on its trailer for apparent whitewashing of the historic 1969 Stonewall riots in New York—riots that were driven by a greatly diverse group of minorities, trans women, lesbians and drag queens. Yet Stonewall the film elevates another pretty white boy (Jeremy Irvine) as its protagonist, Danny Winters. Despite the backlash and boycotts called for since the trailer’s release, this film is one that we’re, at the very least, interested to see at the festival. While it may very well live up to the worst fears of its critics, Stonewall could partially redeem itself in some small ways. No matter what, we’re excited to see it, and judge it, ourselves. (Sept 20, 7pm. $12)

Make sure to check out Reeling’s full schedule here.

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