Anthony Rapp Among 34th Annual REELING FILM FESTIVAL Visiting Talent
Chicago Filmmakers and Showtime Networks are pleased to announce the full feature schedule for the 34th edition of Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. The second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution for more than 30 years, Reeling returns September 22-29, 2016 with an exciting slate of movies that showcases the diversity of the queer experience. Reeling 2016 presents nearly 40 features and numerous shorts from around the world, most of them Chicago premieres, some U.S. and/or World premieres. The festival opens Thursday, September 22 at Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) and then moves to the Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark St.) for the bulk of the festival. The fest’s home base, Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.), will also host screenings.
Reeling launches its eight-day festival with the Opening Night Gala presentation of HURRICANE BIANCA. The hilarious dragtastic comedy – former Chicago writer-director Matt Kugelman’s uproarious debut feature – stars red hot stand-up comedian Roy Haylock and his alter ego, the outrageous drag diva Bianca Del Rio. When demure Richard gets hounded out of his teaching job for being gay in a small Texas town, his other half, the sassy and profane Bianca Del Rio, exacts a riotous revenge. Kugelman, a Columbia College graduate, has crafted a laugh-out-loud John Waters/Tootsie hybrid, offering a divine showcase for Haylock’s massive talents. Haylock’s cyclonic life force Bianca Del Rio, fan favorite and season six champion of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is joined on screen by SNL’s Rachel Dratch and a host of queer icons: Alan Cumming, Margaret Cho, Bianca Leigh, Shangela and RuPaul himself. A pre-screening party in the Music Box Lounge will precede the 7:30 pm Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) screening. Bianca Del Rio, Matt Kugelman and producer Ash Christian are expected to attend the opening night screening.
On Monday night, Rent and If/Then star Anthony Rapp, a Joliet native, comes to the festival for a double feature. First up is the World Premiere festival centerpiece: writer-director John G. Young’s sultry thriller bwoy, starring Rapp as a father drifting away from his wife after the death of their son and becoming obsessed with a sexy young man he meets on a hookup site for Jamaican gay men. Film critic Amy Taubin praised: “This is the kind of unassuming, economical filmmaking which was once the goal of the American independent film movement but has all but vanished with the pressure to stand out from the crowd. This film is outstanding for all the right reasons.” bwoy is followed by Joshua Tunick’s marriage drama DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN? starring Rapp and Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, MTV’s Awkward) on the busy day before their wedding. Rapp will introduce and conduct Q&A s following both Monday, September 26 features at Landmark’s Century Centre.
Reeling closes on Thursday, September 29 with an advance screening of KING COBRA, writer-director Justin Kelly’s (I Am Michael) eagerly anticipated crime thriller based on a true story. A greedy porn producer and his escort boyfriend (James Franco and Keegan Allen) plan to murder a competing porn producer (Christian Slater) in order to make a film with his gay twink superstar (former Disney Channel star Garrett Clayton). Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald co-star. Garrett Clayton and Justin Kelly are expected to attend the Thursday night screening at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema.
Over eight days, the varied titles include: the World Premiere of gorgeous, rural Virginia-set Pride and Prejudice homage BEFORE THE FALL; the U.S. Premiere of Argentina’s super-sensual TAEKWONDO; the heart-wrenching, true-crime documentaries UPSTAIRS INFERNO and SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR; THE SLIPPERS, the fascinating, entrancing story of the fate of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers; and the sexually adventurous SPA NIGHT, SHARED ROOMS, RETAKE and AWOL starring Lola Kirke (Mistress America, Mozart in the Jungle). Advance tickets are on sale now. Feature synopses follow.
OUSEWIVES’ Tuc Watkins stars in writer-director Nick Corporon’s romantic road film as Jonathan, a lonely, middle-aged man who hires a hunky male prostitute (Devon Graye) in San Francisco to join him on a trip to the Grand Canyon and insists on a daddy-boy toy relationship with very specific rules. But as the duo draws nearer to their geographical destination, the emotions of both men spill out and threaten to expose the carefully constructed world Jonathan has paid to create.
The Revival: Women and The Word (Sekiya Dorsett / USA, 2015)
Music. Poetry. Sisterhood. Drama. That’s the tip of the iceberg when Sekiya Dorsett turned her lens on five young women as they journeyed across America in a cramped minivan determined to tell their truth. In the process, this dynamic quintet emerged as poetry rockstars – all of it captured in Dorsett’s fiery, fierce movie, which presents queer women of color as you have never seen them before.
Shared Rooms (Rob Williams / USA, 2016)
Veteran writer-director Rob Williams returns with this jaunty yet probing romantic trio of interconnected stories of gay love at the holidays – an appropriate companion to Williams’ endearingly wacky MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY. These sexy, thought-provoking and charming stories combine when the characters come together for a rousing, heartwarming New Year’s Eve celebration. Get your Christmas spirit on with what EDGE magazine has dubbed “a sweet holiday fairytale.”
Slash (Clay Liford / USA, 2016)
Awkward but adorable teen Neil (TEEN WOLF’s Michael Johnston) and his more confident new gal pal Julia (Hannah Marks, THE RUNAWAYS, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS) are writers of slash fiction – erotic fan fiction focused on same sex sci-fi fantasies. Neil is invited by the older Denis (WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER’s Michael Ian Black), a well-regarded elder statesman of slash fiction – to read at an upcoming convention, and Neil and Julia eagerly make plans to attend and delve further into their fantasies. Camp re-enactments of Neil’s gay sci-fi fantasies are a hilarious and lusty highlight of this wonderfully winsome and charming debut film from writer-director Clay Liford that delightfully explores the boundaries of space…and sexuality.
The Slippers (Morgan White / Canada, 2016)
THE SLIPPERS pulls back the Wizard’s curtain on the unbelievable story and cultural impact of the ultimate movie collectible: the glittering ruby slippers Garland wore as Dorothy in the 1939 classic THE WIZARD OF OZ. Morgan White’s film goes behind the scenes to detail the fascinating journey of the ruby slippers after their sale at the infamous 1970 MGM auction. Any devoted fan of THE WIZARD OF OZ will be over the rainbow for this fascinating, mysterious and ultimately heartwarming saga of the most recognizable movie prop ever created.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of The San Antonio Four (Deborah S. Esquenazi / USA, 2016)
HBO’s THE JINX, Netflix’s MAKING A MURDERER, the podcast SERIAL, the PARADISE LOST films and, now, SOUTHWEST OF SALEM. Director Debroah S. Esquenazi’s riveting exposé documents a real-life miscarriage of justice that forever changed the life of four young Latina lesbians who were unjustly tried and convicted after being accused of satanic ritual abuse. An award winning hit with festival juries and an audience favorite, this engrossing film is truly unforgettable.
Spa Night (Andrew Ahn / USA, 2016)
“Steamy” might seem like a clichéd word to describe this hot, hot drama, but it’s also fittingly apt to describe director Andrew Ahn’s directorial debut about a shy Korean-American teenager who takes a job at the Los Angeles bathhouse he once visited with his parents for traditional family steam baths. Once on the job, he discovers a different side to the place and indulges in a series of anonymous hookups that eclipse his erotic gay fantasies.
Suicide Kale (Carly Usdin / USA, 2015)
In this dark comedy from director Carly Usdin, new lesbian couple Jasmine (Brittani Nichols, TRANSPARENT) and Penn, accept a luncheon invitation from Jordan and Billie, who seem to be living the lesbian dream in sunny Los Angeles. But when Jasmine and Penn discover an anonymous suicide note, it changes their perspective entirely – perhaps all is not quite what it seems between their oh-so-perfect hosts. A delightful, laid-back, modern day drawing room comedy of manners with an improvisatory feel, SUICIDE KALE is a delight.
Taekwondo | U.S. PREMIERE! (Marco Berger & Martin Farina / Argentina, 2016)
Fernando is on holiday with his closest male friends in a beautiful country house in a suburb of Buenos Aries. On their own in a “men only” environment, the hunky young studs bask in the hot sun, play in the pool, smoke pot and drink, most often half-naked or naked. Fernando invites Germán, a dark-haired Brad Pitt look-alike, to join them. As the emotional intimacies and the sexual lethargy ripen in the baking heat, Germán begins to realize that he might not be the only gay man in residence. The latest homoerotic slow burn from director Marco Berger (co-helming with Martin Farina), TAEKWONDO is his most sensual treat yet and is sure to raise the temperature of male voyeurs to the boiling point.
Tomcat (Handl Klaus / Austria, 2016)
Winner of the prestigious Teddy award for Best Feature Film at this year’s Berlinale, Handl Klaus’ sophomore effort is a sensual relationship drama that unexpectedly delivers an out of the blue bolt of lightning that haunts Stefan and Andreas, the Austrian couple at its center. The Garden of Eden-like existence of Stefan and Andreas is shattered after a shocking and unexpected incident alters the perceptions that the duo has of one another and their understanding of themselves. TOMCAT is a provocative, stirring examination of what happens to a loving couple when trouble snakes its way into paradise.
Upstairs Inferno | DOCUMENTARY CENTERPIECE! (Robert L. Camina / USA, 2015)
On June 24, 1973 an arsonist set fire to New Orleans gay bar, Up Stairs Lounge, trapping patrons and killing 32. Until the tragic events in Orlando earlier this year, it was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. Yet, few people inside the community – let alone the mainstream public – have ever heard about the tragedy. Robert L. Camina’s heart-wrenching film features never-before-seen photographs, news footage and evidence as well as interviews with witnesses and survivors – many of who haven’t discussed the fire until now. The film is narrated by New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, a longtime New Orleans resident and prominent member of their gay community.
Where Are You Going, Habibi? (Tor Iben / Germany, 2015)
Ibo, a young German of Turkish descent is on the hunt for Mr. Right. Fate intervenes when he meets the sexy, charismatic Ali, a wrestler and petty criminal who claims to be straight. Ibo becomes infatuated with Ali and a flirtatious and trusting friendship develops that, if Ibo is reading the signs correctly, offers the promise of something more. But unexpected events threaten to tear apart the close bond between the two men. Writer-director Tor Iben has crafted an unlikely buddy movie about the power of love and the blurring of boundaries.
Reeling is supported by many local and national businesses and corporations without whom the festival would not be possible. Reeling thanks Presenting sponsor Showtime Networks; Premier sponsors Gilead, HereTV, Time Out Chicago, XFINITY and ChicagoPride.com; Grand sponsors AARP, Gay Ad Network, Nexus Radio and Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace; and Major sponsors Coat of Arms and Yes! Press for their generous and essential support.
Visit www.reelingfilmfestival.org for the full festival lineup.