Get ready to overdose on GLBT athletes as Gay Games VII comes to Chicago and gay cinema as well. In honor of the sporting event, Reeling, Chicago's gay and lesbian film festival, has put together a mini-fest ( from July 14-23 ) to give the influx of expected revelers a more overt queer-based cinematic celebration than the tease of Johnny Depp swishing as he swashes buckles and Anne Hathaway dodging verbal bullets from frosty boss Meryl Streep.
The fest will present a wide variety of international selections ( honoring the participant countries ) and a variety of genres. It goes without saying that many of the films being screened have been written, produced or directed by out filmmakers—and that a preview of the line-up for Reeling's annual fest in November will be included. Aside from features, the fest will present several themed programs of shorter works highlighted by an evening of comic shorts at the Hollywood Beach ( grab your towel and beach chair ) . The Rooftop Garden at Gallery 37 is another outdoor venue that will host screenings with Film Row Cinema at Columbia College, the Claudia Cassidy Theatre at the Chicago Cultural Center and Chicago Filmmakers as the other screening sites. The complete line-up and ticket information is available by phoning 773-293-1447 or visiting the Reeling Film Fest site at www.reelingfilmfestival.org
Whole New Thing
Thirteen-year-old Emerson ( Aaron Webber ) is the precocious, home-schooled son of two free-thinking parents in Nova Scotia. As the film opens the trio is seen lounging nude in their sauna and the intellectual Emerson brings this anything-goes attitude with him when his parents decide to enroll him in high school to help develop his social skills. What Emerson does is develop a big-time crush on Don, his English teacher, who is all-too-glad to take Emerson's suggestion to ditch the required text in favor of Shakespeare. Complications ensue when Emerson, whose hormones are raging, decides that nothing is going to stop his pursuit of an encounter with Don.
This provocative coming-of-age scenario is helped by its thoughtful, unsensational approach, sharply observed writing, and nuanced directing by first-time feature director Amnon Buchbinder. Webber's Emerson seems to be a benign combination of Thora Birch's misunderstood and contemptuous goth in Ghost World and Jason Schwartzman's devilishly clever Max Fischer in Rushmore. The movie opens the fest with a screening on Fri., July 14, at 7 p.m. at Film Row Center at Columbia College.
Be Real: Stories from Queer America
This is a fascinating and entertaining documentary that looks at the extraordinary feats of six everyday LGBT individuals who have made differences in their respective communities. They are a gay Cadillac car dealer and his partner, embraced by an obviously conservative faction of Miami; a gay bodybuilder who has survived cancer and created an inspirational ( and oh-so-gay ) musical stage version of It's a Wonderful Life; a female African American teaching at Columbia University and delving into the histories of lesbians of color; a gay man returning to his religiously conservative home in Virginia for a high school reunion; a lesbian punk rock singer who starts a carpool service to provide free night rides to protect women from rape and hate crimes in Brooklyn; and Tara 'Red' Tremmel, the explorer of gender issues who identifies as both female and male. Chicagoan Tremmel's story will be of obvious interest to local residents and many will be familiar with the hit Girlie-Q Burlesque show that she/he produces here. It screens Fri., July 14, at 9:15 p.m. at Film Row Center at Columbia College.
Guys and Balls
This is a sort of gay version of Dodgeball, only the sport of choice is soccer and the location is Germany. Like its American counterpart, the film is stuffed to the gills with comedic stereotypes and situations; however, it's refreshing that the stereotypes are of straights! After Peter Frampton-lookalike Ecki's teammates figure out he's gay ( on the day he's also not been able to block the opposing team's winning shot ) , he heads to the big city to live with his sister, sort out his gay feelings and recruit an all-gay soccer team for a revenge match. Naturally, a cutie boyfriend is part of the mix. A decided crowd pleaser and light in tone, the film also scores several points for gay awareness along the way. Subtitled. It closes the fest with a screening on Sun., July 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Gallery 37 Roof Top Garden.
What could be a better birthday present for a cinema-loving queen like myself than the excellent documentary Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema? This nifty little doc debuts on IFC on Sun., July 16 ( during a month-long celebration of Queer Cinema on IFC ) just as I'll be ringing in another year. The movie sports the usual assortment of insightful queer talking heads ( John Waters, Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant ) and adds some unusual and enlightening ones ( B. Ruby Rich, Don Roos and Heather Matarazo ) to the mix—all talking about queer cinema, past present and future. The movie is packed with clips—with everything from Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising to the masterful and sometimes overlooked Parting Glances, as well as recent additions to the canon. This is the movie bookend to The Celluloid Closet—and it's long overdue. See www.ifctv.com .
From the fabulous to the not-quite-so: The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, is, sorry to say, a mostly unfabulous and unfunny film that, after making the rounds of the film fests, is getting a theatrical run here beginning this Friday at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema. Daniel Letterle ( Camp ) stars in the title role of this woefully underdone comedy. Based on the popular gay cartoon strip, Ethan is in the midst of a relationship crisis after breaking up with his professional football player boyfriend. Director George Bamber tries hard to squeeze laughs out of what is yet another film about West Coast narcissistic golden boys. www.landmarktheatres.com
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