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Reeling to bookend 34th LGBT film fest with ‘Hurricane Bianca,’ James Franco’s ‘King Cobra’

Hurricane Bianca
Hurricane Bianca

Reeling, the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, will open its 34th slate with a screening of Hurricane Bianca, a new comedy starring RuPaul’s Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio (a.k.a. Roy Haylock). The crowdsourced film marks the directing debut of Chicago native and Columbia College alum Matt Kugelman.

The revenge comedy, which has Haylock as a Texas teacher who’s fired for being gay but returns for vengeance as Bianca, also stars Rachel Dratch, Alan Cumming and Margaret Cho. The Reeling screening on September 22 at the Music Box Theatre, opening the festival slate, is one of several theatrical screenings around the country that week leading up to Hurricane Bianca’s VOD release on September 23.

The festival’s closing night, September 29, will be a screening of true-crime drama King Cobra, starring James Franco and Christian Slater as gay porn producers whose competition over a hot young performer turns murderous. The second feature from director Justin Kelly is based on a lurid murder case that tangentially involved twink porn star Brent Corrigan (played here by onetime Disney Channel kid Garrett Clayton).

The week in between promises a lineup that festival co-programmer Richard Knight Jr. says is “one of the sexiest in years, with an even larger slate of those provocative movies that audiences really love.” Those features include bwoy, a thriller starring Joliet’s own Anthony Rapp; Do You Take This Man, a marriage drama also starring Rapp with Mean Girls’s Jonathan Bennett; Maura Anderson’s lesbian drama Heartland, about a woman with a crush on her brother’s fiancée; and the much lighter lesbian comedy Almost Adults.

In the always-popular coming-of-age category, there’s the sweet dramedy Slash, about teenage friends finding themselves through writing erotic fan fiction, and Closet Monster, a Canadian coming-out story with a visually arresting style that's earned comparisons to Gregg Araki (and features Isabella Rossellini voicing a hamster).

Documentary offerings Robert L. Camina’s Upstairs Inferno, about the 1973 arson attack on New Orleans gay bar the Upstairs Lounge that killed 32 men; Real Boy, in which director Shaleece Haas follows a teen musician’s gender transition; and The Slippers, which sees Canadian director Morgan White tracking the trajectories of the multiple pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

The complete schedule for Reeling 2016 (with most screenings at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema and Chicago Filmmakers) will be posted at this Thursday, August 25; tickets go on sale September 1.