Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival announced the bulk of its feature lineup for September's 33rd edition of the fest at a media preview this evening. The slate includes the first Chicago screenings of two of the fall's highest-profile LGBT-themed movies: Stonewall, director Roland Emmerich's fictionalized take on the 1969 riots at a New York City gay bar, and Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a real-life lesbian couple fighting injustice.
The trailer for Stonewall hit the Web yesterday, and though it seems to be a passion project for Independence Day director Emmerich and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz, who are both gay themselves, the online reaction to their apparent decision to center the story on a young, white, attractive cisgender man (played by British actor Jeremy Irvine) and sideline the lesbians, trans* people, drag queens and people of color at the heart of the real Stonewall riots has been mixed to say the least.
Freeheld seems on its surface less controversial. Moore plays a New Jersey police detective who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in the mid-2000s, fought to secure her pension benefits for her domestic partner, played by Page. Michael Shannon and Steve Carell costar in the film from director Peter Sollett. (Both Freeheld and Stonewall will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at Reeling, but Reeling will precede the movies' commercial openings.)
Reeling opens at the Music Box Theatre on September 17 with Fourth Man Out, the debut feature from director Andrew Nackman. It's described as "a bro comedy with a lot of heart" about a small-town auto mechanic whose coming out confuses his blue-collar pals. Nackman and cast members Evan Todd and Kate Flannery (a founding member of the Annoyance Theatre) are expected to appear at the screening. Other highlights include documentaries Tchindas, which Reeling co-curator Richard Knight described as "an African Paris Is Burning," and Olya's Love, which follows a pair of lesbian activists in the increasingly hostile contemporary Russia. Reeling 33 runs September 17–24; tickets go on sale August 27 at reelingfilmfestival.org.