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Queer cinema

Check out these LGBT films coming to a theater near you.
Photograph: Courtesy of Fawzia Mirza Queen of My Dreams
By Jason A. Heidemann |

No Reeling? No problem. Although Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival ( is taking the year off, queer cinema is still alive and well this fall in Chicago. Here’s a peek.

A trifecta of queer documentaries screens this weekend as part of the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival ( happening Friday 5 through Sunday 7 at the ShowPlace ICON. The Activist Within highlights the battle for marriage equality in Arizona and California, while Love Free or Die turns its lens on openly gay bishop Gene Robinson. Finally, UnFit: Ward vs. Ward tells the grisly and true tale of a lesbian mother in Florida’s conservative panhandle who loses custody of her daughter to her ex-husband, a convicted murderer who shot and killed his first wife point-blank. The clips from Geraldo are stomach-turning, but be on the lookout for National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendell, the film’s most compelling and distinguished talking head.

[node:15741246 noterms imagecache=field_image:timeout_245x152:image:0; cck=field_caption; cck=field_credits;]Another good place to check out queer cinema is the Chicago International Film Festival ( happening October 11–25 and taking in a half dozen LGBT-themed titles. Alan Cumming stars as a drag performer dating a closeted attorney circa the late 1970s in Any Day Now; true tale The Bella Vista pits the local residents of a small town in Uruguay against a group of trans prostitutes who are using an abandoned clubhouse as a brothel. The Mexican entry Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me imagines a sapphic love story between a middle-aged intellectual and a loud, outgoing teenager. Meanwhile, Ira Sachs’s much-anticipated Keep the Lights On, based on the real-life romance between Sachs and literary agent Bill Clegg, turns a one-night stand into a nine-year relationship whose limits are tested by drug addiction. If you miss it at CIFF, it returns for a run beginning October 26 at the Music Box Theatre (

Rounding out the feature films are Westerland, a German entry about two loners who connect one winter on the gay-frequented island of Sylt, and Out in the Dark, a star-crossed love story that weaves together the overlapping issues of sexual orientation and nationality of a Palestinian and an Israeli. It’s not amazing by any stretch, but it serves as a compelling primer for the kinds of legal and cultural tangles bi-national couples (regardless of orientation) often are forced to negotiate. Finally, local filmmaker and actor Fawzia Mirza explores Bollywood, drag and identity in the experimental short film “The Queen of My Dreams.”

Speaking of local filmmakers, gay photographer and UIC professor Doug Ischar, whose 2009 exhibit “Marginal Waters” featured his photos of the queer community at the Belmont Rocks in the summer of ’85, debuts a collection of shorts at Chicago Filmmakers ( Friday 5 collectively titled Expressions of Self: New Films by Doug Ischar.

Pride Films and Plays, meanwhile, offers up a Gay Film Weekend October 18–21 at the Center on Halsted by rounding up a dozen queer shorts and coupling them with a post-show audience discussion with the filmmakers and local panelists.

Finally, the pulpy, popcorn thriller Jack & Diane, landing in theaters everywhere November 2 and on demand now, tells the story of two teenage girls in New York City who fall in love. Did I mention one is a werewolf? Happy screaming.

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