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Reeling LGBT International Film Festival Returns For Its 32nd Edition

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 2, 2014 3:00PM

a still from "Boy Meets Girl," directed by Eric Schaeffer
This year's edition of the Reeling LGBT International Film Festival has been moved from its usual slot in November to September, and we couldn't be happier about it. Frankly, by the time that the Chicago International Film Festival draws to a close every October, we're ready for a break. By preceding CIFF, Reeling will act like a warm-up of sorts; this year's festival runs September 18-25, a compact week of screenings that cover the entire LGBT spectrum.

Films with trans themes are definitely in the spotlight this year, beginning with the fest's Opening Night feature Boy Meets Girl. In this case the girl is Ricky, played by trans actress Michelle Hendley in her debut. Living in a small Kentucky town, all she wants to do is move to New York to study fashion design. But Cupid has other plans for her. Drunktown's Finest, another film with a trans character, is set in Gallup, New Mexico, where a cross-section of Native Americans living on the margins struggle to find fulfillment. Songs For Alexis, centered on a transgender teenager and folk singer in San Francisco, and "(EM)Brace: Trans Identities," a whole program of shorts, also explore the lives of trans people.

But Reeling hasn't foregone the kind of fare that's traditionally been its bread and butter: raunchy comedies and movies with plenty of sex. The 10 Year Plan, a comedy from the ever prolific JC Calciano, and The Foxy Merkins, a madcap lesbian romp, certainly fit the description, as does Crazy Bitches, a wild parody of slasher movies. Two programs of shorts, "Love Squared: Sexy Comedy Collection" and "Under the Surface: Gritty Narrative Shorts," also promise plenty of human scenery. Then there's Bruce Labruce's Gerontophilia, wherein a handsome young man who works at a nursing home falls for Mr. Peabody, one of the elderly residents.

Reeling has always boasted an exceptionally strong assortment of documentaries. Gaming in Color looks at the queer gaming community, a subset of nerds that seems to grow more prominent by the day. Queens and Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo and Skanks profile other facets of LGBT life. And we're especially intrigued by Queers In The Kingdom, which follows a group of queer alumni from Wheaton College, Billy Graham's alma mater.

Narratively speaking, we're most anxious to see Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw in a plaintive tale of mourning and reconciliation. On the other end of the scale Tom at the Farm, from Xavier Dolan, also looks great, just the kind of twisty mindscrew we love to watch in a darkened theater. All in all, this year's festival promises something for everyone.

The Reeling LGBT International Film Festival runs Sept. 18-25. Most tickets are $12.