( September 8, 2016 - Chicago, IL ) 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 AWOLstarring Lola Kirke ( Mistress America, Mozart in the Jungle ). Advance tickets are on sale now. Feature synopses follow.
Almost Adults ( Sarah Rotella / Canada, 2015 )
Mackenzie ( Elise Bauman ) and Cassie ( Natasha Negovanlis ), the best of besties, don't have a single secret between them as they enter their final year as college roommates. Okay, except one…a big one. Even though everyone else knows that Mackenzie is a lesbian, she doesn't quite know herself and neither does Cassie. This delightful, "platonic rom-com" delights from the get-go.
AWOL ( Deb Shoval / USA, 2016 )
Lola Kirke ( MISTRESS AMERICA, MOZART IN THE JUNGLE ) is a stand-out as Joey, a recent high school grad faced with a dead-end future in her small town in rural Pennsylvania. Her unexpected affair with a married woman — a hard drinking, gorgeous blonde with two kids and a truck driver husband — makes her re-think her decision to join the Army. Hailed as "deeply affecting" by Variety, Deb Shoval's feature debut delivers a passionate lesbian love story.
Bear City 3 ( Doug Langway / USA, 2016 )
The gang of husky, hairy lads familiar to fans of the BEAR CITY series is back with a final adventure that finds them pitching their tents — and their hopes for love, lust and resolve — in a deep woods resort. Fans of this frisky bunch will welcome them back for this three-peat with open ( hairy ) arms, while newbies are in for a delightful surprise.
Before The Fall | WORLD PREMIERE! ( Byrum Geisler / USA, 2016 )
Handsome, affluent attorney Ben Bennet inexplicably finds himself falling hard for a rough-hewn welder after a chance meeting in court leads to an improbable friendship and possibly more. Byrum Geisler's cinematically gorgeous directorial debut is a modern day variation on Jane Austin's classic novel Pride & Prejudice, reimagined as a heartfelt, deeply satisfying gay romance.
bwoy | WORLD PREMIERE! ( John G. Young / USA, 2016 )
Following the accidental death of his young son, Brad O'Connor ( RENT'sAnthony Rapp, DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN? ) finds himself drifting from his wife and becoming obsessed with a sexy young man he meets on a hook-up site for Jamaican gay men. Writer-director John G. Young's erotic drama morphs into a thriller that will have you guessing the outcome from the moment of the first encounter between Brad and his online infatuation.
Closet Monster ( Stephen Dunn / Canada, 2015 )
AMERICAN CRIME's Connor Jessup stars in this visually arresting coming out story as Oscar, a troubled young man obsessed with monster make-up. His best friend is his pet hamster ( voiced by Isabella Rossellini ), until he meets his rough-'n'-tumble co-worker Wilder ( Aliocha Schneider ), a seductive bad boy, and his queer desires kick into high gear. Spearheaded by Jessup's masterful performance, writer-director Stephen Dunn's debut feature, a swirling visual kaleidoscope, artfully captures the chaotic transition between adolescence and adulthood.
Daddy's Boy ( Daniel Armando / USA, 2015 )
Four young men from different walks of life living in New York City explore their daddy issues and find their lives unexpectedly intersecting as they shed their inhibitions and clothes during money making softcore porn shoots. Daniel Armando's highly erotic essay, with its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, finds his characters exploring the boundaries of male identity and sexuality amidst the throbbing intensity of life in New York City.
Departure ( Andrew Steggall / France/UK, 2015 )
Rising talent Alex Lawther, the young Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME and Bette Midler's co-star in the forthcoming FREAK SHOW, headlines this alternatively contemplative and sensual drama about a gay teen obsessed with a tough, hunky French lad he and his mother ( TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY's Juliet Stevenson ) encounter while on a last vacation at their cottage in the gorgeous countryside in the South of France.
Do You Take This Man? ( Joshua Tunick / USA, 2016 )
It's the day before the wedding of Daniel ( RENT's Anthony Rapp, BWOY ) and his somewhat younger fiancé Christopher ( MEAN GIRLS and DANCING WITH THE STARS contestant Jonathan Bennett ). As friends and family arrive, minor problems lead to major jitters for the seemingly mismatched couple who learn the test of true love. Mackenzie Astin, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER's Alyson Hannigan and Thomas Dekker( Gregg Araki's KABOOM ).
Esteros ( Papu Corutto / Argentina, Brazil, 2016 )
Matias and Jeronimo, adolescent almost-lovers separated by a family move, reunite years later by chance. Matias is now engaged to a woman and Jeronimo is confident as an out gay man. The chemistry between the men is palpable and leads Matias to question his commitment to his girlfriend. Papu Corutto's relationship drama is steeped in eroticism and ruminates on the enduring power of first love.
Fair Haven ( Kerstin Karlhuber / USA, 2016 )
After a long stint in ex-gay conversion therapy, James ( THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER's Michael Grant ) returns to the family farm and his emotionally stilted father ( THE DUKES OF HAZZARD and DJANGO UNCHAINED's Tom Wopat ) — the man who insisted he go to therapy in the first place. Things are fine at first, but when James encounters his former lover, his confusion returns and both father and song must come to terms with the truth. A heartfelt gay drama set in the heartland.
First Girl I Loved ( Kerem Sanga / USA, 2016 )
Seventeen-year-old Anne, a headstrong, brainy teen nerd, falls hard for Sasha, the high school's most popular girl, and the feeling is mutual. But Anne's short-lived bliss is interrupted when she confesses all to her best friend Clifton who then reveals he has long harbored a crush on her. A Sundance Film Fest favorite, this delightful, contemporary take on the typical coming out story delivers a dose of winsome energy that is underlined with a ton of heart.
Heartland ( Maura Anderson / USA, 2016 )
After the death of her girlfriend, Lauren ( Velinda Godfrey ) finds herself emotionally adrift and moves back in with her mother. When her brother comes home for a visit, Lauren and his fiancée, the pretty and sweet Carrie ( Laura Spencer ) become fast friends. Slowly, Lauren realizes that she would like more, and maybe, just maybe, Carrie does too. Maura Anderson's film is an entertaining and at times moving story of misplaced affection and almost missed human connections.
Hurricane Bianca | OPENING NIGHT! ( Matt Kugelman / USA, 2016 )
Red-hot standup comedian Roy Haylock and his alter ego, the outrageous drag diva Bianca Del Rio, star in this hilarious dragtastic revenge comedy from Columbia College graduate writer-director Matt Kugelman. When demure Richard gets hounded out of his teaching job in a small Texas town for being gay, his other half, the dragtastic diva Bianca Del Rio exacts a hilarious revenge under the suspicious eye of the vice principal ( Rachel Dratch ). Kugelman's directorial debut, a laugh-out-loud John Waters/TOOTSIE hybrid, offers a divine showcase for Haylock's massive talents. Haylock's cyclonic life force Bianca Del Rio, season six champion of RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE, is joined onscreen by a host of queer icons: Alan Cumming, Margaret Cho, Bianca Leigh and RuPaulhimself.
RED CARPET Reception + Hurricane Bianca | OPENING NIGHT! ( Matt Kugelman / USA, 2016 )
Join us at 6pm for a special RED CARPET RECEPTION before the Festival Premiere of HURRICANE BIANCA, with sickeningly fierce starBianca Del Rio and director Matt Kugelman in person! Enjoy hors d'oeuvres from Grassroots and grab a few drinks from the bar in the Music Box Lounge before the film starts ( 7:30pm showtime ) and help us kick off Reeling 2016 in style!
Jonathan ( Piotr J. Lewandoswki / Germany, 2016 )
Balancing endless chores on the family farm while taking care of his terminally ill father Burghardt ( Andre Hennicke ), the 23 year-old Jonathan ( Jannis Niewohner ) is miserable. Soon after he begins an affair with his father's caretaker Anka ( Julia Koschitz ) that shows promise, he discovers that his father is gay when his long-lost lover Ron shows up. Jonathan feels hurt and betrayed — especially when his father renews his love affair with Ron. Can Jonathan overcome his prejudices before it's too late? Piotr J. Lewandowski's debut feature is a visually sumptuous feast for the senses, anchored by the sensitive, complex performances of the cast and its many plot twists and turns.
King Cobra | CLOSING NIGHT! ( Justin Kelly / USA, 2016 )
James Franco and writer-director Justin Kelly follow-up their critically hailed collaboration I AM MICHAEL with an even juicier gay-themed film, a crime thriller based on true events. Christian Slater plays Stephen, a small-time gay porn producer who lucks out when he discovers twink extraordinaire Sean Paul Lockhart aka Brent Corrigan ( played by Disney channel alumn Garrett Clayton ), and turns him into a gay adult superstar. But after a falling out, Stephen legally prevents Sean from using his trademarked name. James Franco and Keegan Allen ( PRETTY LITTLE LIARS ) play a pair of lowlife gay porn producers who want to work with "the" Brent Corrigan no matter the cost. A real-life tale of murder, greed and gay sexual obsession, KING COBRA has become one of the most talked about films of the year. Molly Ringwald and Alicia Silverstone co-star.
The Landscape Within ( Andrea Capranico / Philippines, 2016 )
Fans of the body painting reality show SKIN WARS will find their palates sated with this visual extravaganza. A labor of love four years in the making, Andrea Capranico's film is a lyrical and spiritual journey of healing through art. Following the death of his father, the openly gay artist Eric Nui Cabales from the Philippines — a body-painter, costume designer, photographer and conceptual artist — enlists his wide circle of friends to create stunning beautiful temporary living canvases. Recalling the immersive, mind-blowing experience of Godfrey Reggio's KOYAANISQATSI and Ron Fricke's BARAKA, THE LANDSCAPE WITHIN truly is the place where art becomes limitless.
Last Men Standing ( Tim Hussin & Erin Brethauer / USA, 2016 )
In the mid-'80s a diagnosis of HIV infection was tantamount to a death sentence. Thirty years later, the men profiled in this moving and thought-provoking documentary from San Francisco Chroniclejournalists/filmmakers Erin Bethauer and Tim Hussin are still alive. Having beaten the odds, they find themselves faced with the challenges they thought they'd never live to confront. Brethauer and Hussin's film documents the lives of ordinary men who inexplicably have survived to find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.
Lazy Eye ( Tim Kirkman / USA, 2015 )
What if the one that got away suddenly came back? That's the premise of writer-director Tim Kirkman's deeply romantic and deeply passionate drama. When Dean suddenly hears from his ex-lover Alex, who disappeared from his life 15 years earlier, the two meet up for a flirty, lusty weekend at a vacation home in the California desert. Emmy nominated writer-director Tim Kirkman, renowned for LOGGERHEADS, THE NIGHT LARRY KRAMER KISSED ME and DEAR JESSE, beautifully contemplates the road not taken, reconciling the past with the present, and offers a tantalizing glimpse into a possible future.
Major! ( Annalise Ophelian / USA, 2015 )
Before transgender activists of color Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, there was Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Filmmaker Annalise Ophelian documents the revolutionary life of this extraordinary activist who has fought for transgender rights for 40 years. Suffused with an endearing spirit, MAJOR! has been embraced by audiences and festival judges alike — taking both the audience award at Outfest and a special jury mention for its "depiction of undying activism." Come discover for yourself this fascinating, unique, inspiring individual.
Memories of a Penitent Heart ( Cecilia Aldarondo / USA, 2016 )
Twenty-five years after her uncle Miguel died from AIDS, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo begins a journey into his past that leads her to attempt to resolve a decades-old family drama. In doing so, she uncovers never-healed wounds and an aching desire to bring closure to what has morphed into a family tragedy revolving around the homosexuality of her beloved uncle and his non-acceptance by his strict Catholic mother. In uncovering the truth of the past and confronting it in the present, Cecilia movingly connects once again with her beloved uncle. This TriBeCa Film Festival premiere has been hailed by The Village Voice as "exceptional" and "profoundly affecting."
People You May Know ( J.C. Falcon / USA, 2016 )
A sexy ensemble cast sparks this lively drama that poses some rather provocative questions about the boundaries of friendship and sexuality. Joe, Delia, Rodrigo and Herbert are very close friends in their mid-30s who are about to see their closeness tested. Big Time. Superhot out actorsSean Maher ( SERENITY ) and Mark Cirillo ( HOW TO AVOID THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, THE SEMINARIAN ) co-star along with Lauren Mayhew ( RAISE YOUR VOICE, 90's girl group P.Y.T. ) and Andrea Grano( PLANET OF THE APES ) in this endearing film from J.C. Falcon.
Real Boy ( Shaleece Haas / USA, 2016 )
The tricky passage from teenager to adulthood is difficult enough to navigate without the additional challenges facing Bennett Wallace, a trans teen who urgently wants to make the leap in all aspects of his life. In Shaleece Haas's intimate and deeply moving debut documentary, Bennett, a gifted songwriter and musician, invites viewers to join him on his journey as he strives to become the man and the artist that he has dreamed of. A vibrant and joyful film that won the Audience Award at Frameline, REAL BOY will inspire viewers to listen to songs of their own inner voices.
Retake ( Nick Corporon / USA, 2015 )
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES' 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 EDGEmagazine 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 GermÃ¡n, a dark-haired Brad Pitt look-alike, to join them. As the emotional intimacies and the sexual lethargy ripen in the baking heat, GermÃ¡n 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 andChicagoPride.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 .
For more information, the public can call ( 773 ) 293-1447, consult the festival website at www.reelingfilmfestival.org, or follow @reelingfilmfest on twitter for the latest Reeling news and ticket promotions.
Tickets may be purchased online ( www.reelingfilmfestival.org ) now or in person at Chicago Filmmakers ( 5243 N. Clark St. ) startingSeptember 8.