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These New Web Series Have Everything: Queer Love, Witches & Chicago

By Rachel Cromidas in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 30, 2017 9:25PM

Still from "Afternoon Snatch."

Chicago can be a tough place to make film—the industry, jobs and money are concentrated on the coasts—but we're pleased to see more and more Chicagoans turning out new, original stories that take place in our city.

We're thankful to OpenTV for putting three new shows on our radar this winter, made by emerging queer artists: Brown Girls, a series written by Fatimah Asghar and directed by Sam Bailey, about the friendship of a South Asian-American woman and Black-American woman living in Chicago that's already received glowing write-ups from Vice, OUT Magazine, Fast Co. and Remezcla; Brujos, which follows a coven of four gay latino doctoral students, who also happen to be witches, struggling to survive a racially-charged witch-hunt, written by Ricardo Gamboa; and Afternoon Snatch, which focuses on the life of queer woman who runs a feminist magazine and was recently dumped—with cameos from such Chicago cultural institutions as Salonathon and About Face Theatre.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting a premiere of the three "Open TV - beta" shows Tuesday at 6 p.m., with a Q&A and feedback session for some of the shows' creators. You can also catch the Chicago release of Brown Girls on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Chicago Art Department.

Brown Girls is airing in February on OpenTV. Watch a clip, below:

You can also watch the trailer for Brujos (NSFW):

And here's the trailer for Afternoon Snatch, which is also debuting next month on OpenTV:

You may need to brush up on your queer theory before taking a look—we counted to uses of the term "heteronormativity" in the trailers alone—and that's a good thing. These shows promise to be smart and careful with themes that speak to a LGBTQ audiences and audiences of color that are often overlooked in mainstream film, if not made into stereotypes.

Chicagoist recently caught up with Afternoon Snatch creators Kayla Ginsburg and Ruby Western to discuss the making of this particularly Chicago, particularly queer web series.

"Having the series be very much based in the fabric of the Chicago queer community and arts community was really, really important to us," Ginsburg said. That means you'll see shots from About Face Theatre, Salonathon and Beauty Bar. And the offices for Snatch Magazine, the show's fictional women's mag (and a play on Bitch magazine and '70s- and '80s-era feminist lit), are the actual home of Chicago-based Catharsis Productions, which does sex assault prevention and educational theater.

"Making queer feminist comedy is really important, especially in this time," she added. "You can be a feminist, and an intersectional feminist, and still make awesome comedy that also pulls at your heartstrings."

The story itself is in part inspired by a breakup Western went through a few years ago. Western wrote an 8-minute film about it that she didn't think much of, but Ginsburg thought it had potential.

"It's a comedy about queer community and heartbreak, and the moral of the whole thing is that you don't need to find one person to love in order to heal," Western said. "You can find community and love in your work and in your friendships."

The beauty about making the film in Chicago, they added, is that they found no shortage of talented people who were excited to help, even on a small budget.

"f you're OK with sort of the long haul (they started creating the show two years ago), then Chicago is an amazing place to make film, because you can collaborate with incredible artists and queer folks," Ginsburg said.

"It's about the work," Western added. "No one here was like, this is the thing that's going to make me famous. It was a project that we really care about."