12 Top Picks to See at Chicago’s Reeling LGBTQ+ Film Festival

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12 Top Picks to See at Chicago’s Reeling LGBTQ+ Film Festival
The Staff
Sept 11, 2023

Bruce Vilanch

The 41st edition of Reeling, the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, will launch Sept. 21 with the festival’s Opening Night feature, “The Mattachine Family,” screening at The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave. The screening will be “preceded by a special reception marking the start of 2023’s Reeling: The 41st Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival,” Reeling’s official website says, “with expected in-person appearances by the movie’s star, hometown hero Nico Tortorella, and director Andy Vallentine. Expect an evening to remember.”

The festival will run through Oct. 1, offering more than 40 features and documentaries, plus the charming Australian dramedy series “Single, Out” about a teenager’s emergence from the closet and his first forays into gay culture and romance.

Centerpiece film Glitter & Doom” sees real-life partners and longtime filmmaking collaborators Tom Gustafson (director) and Cory Krueckeberg (screenwriter) return with a tale about two young men living in Mexico City but looking to expand their lives and chase their dreams.

11 short programs – organized around themes ranging from “Living Your Truth” to “Bittersweet Love Stories” to “What Were You Thinking?” – round out the festival’s slate.

After Opening Night, the festival heads to two venues: Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N Clark St., and Chicago Filmmakers, 1326 W Hollywood Ave.

Select films will also stream at the Eventive streaming platform starting Friday, September 29th at 12:00 a.m.. They will be available until October 8th at 11:59 a.m., enabling the festival’s reach to extend beyond city limits.

Please note that not all films may be available in all regions, and each virtual screening has a maximum number of viewers.

Tickets and passes are available online.

  1. “The Mattachine Family” – Opening Night Selection

Andy Vallentine’s family drama explores what happens when two foster dads, Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo di Pace) lose their place as the center of their son’s family life when the boy’s biological mother re-enters the picture. Few losses can strain a relationship like the loss of a child, and as the two men wrestle with the shift in their lives, it sends them on different paths.

Screening: Thursday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

  1. “The Judgment”

Mo, an atheist from a Muslim background, hasn’t fully shaken off the religious beliefs he was indoctrinated into when he was young. Called back to Egypt by a family crisis, Mo brings his boyfriend along, but the couple must deal with secrecy, superstition, and – possibly – blackmail.

Screening: Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, 9:15 p.m. at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4. Or stream online.

“American Parent”

  1. “American Parent”

A same-sex family headed by a lesbian couple facing the impossible choice of financial hardship in the city – or life in a rural place where they might not be welcome. In a time when “parents’ rights” are used as a cudgel against LGBTQ+ rights and visibility, will these parents matter?

Screening: Friday, Sept. 22nd, 7:00 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4

“Glitter & Doom”

  1. “Glitter & Doom” – Centerpiece Film

Director Tom Gustafson and screenwriter Corey Krueckeberg join forces once more to tell the story of Glitter, a young man looking to forge a career in the circus, and his new heartthrob, Doom, a budding singer-songwriter. In a musical milieu where unexpected faces pop up for wild cameos, can the two find their way toward their dreams without passing each other up?

Screening: Thursday, Sept. 28, 9:00 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4.

“About Us but Not About Us”

  1. “About Us but Not About Us”

A cat-and-mouse thriller from the Philippines, the film starts off as a friendly lunch date between teacher and student, both gay writers, but slowly twists into a murder mystery told in real time over 90 increasingly tense minutes.

Screening: Saturday, Sept. 23, 5:15 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 6.

“Studio One Forever”

  1. Studio One Forever

Chita Rivera, Lance Bass, Bruce Vilanch, and others open up on camera about the West Hollywood gay disco that offered gay men a place to call their own for two decades of drama and dancing.

Screening: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2:45 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4. Or, stream this movie.


  1. “Fireworks”

Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Fiorello revisits a horrific hate crime from 1980s Sicily, fictionalizing the story of Giorgio and Antonio into the summertime meeting and intense connection between teenagers Gianni and Nino in 1982. Youthful passion and anti-gay conservatism clash in a powerful tale of courage and love.

Screening: Sunday, Sept. 24, 1:00 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 6. Or, stream this movie.

  1. “Since the Last Time we Met”

Victor would rather not commit, contenting himself with an endless string of hookups… until a chance meeting with his first love, David, the man who broke his heart years ago, complicates his life. Making things even messier is the fact that David has hidden his true self behind the façade of a marriage to a woman.

Screening: Sunday, Sept. 24, 7:00 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4.

  1. “Drifter”

Sexy, kinky, and empowering, “Drifter” follows Moritz as he moves to Berlin and is promptly dumped by his boyfriend. Cut loose and ready to explore the city – and himself – Mortiz flirts with the oblivion of drugs and numbness in a quest that might bring him back to love.

Screening: Sunday, Sept. 24, 8:45 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4

  1. “House of Izabel”

Described as a “camp melodrama” and “enthralling period fantasy,” this 60s-set film follows the secret lives – and fabulous looks – of male-presenting people allowed to let their true selves shine for a few days at a time.

Screening: Sunday, Sept. 24, 8:15 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 6. Or, stream this movie.

  1. “Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn”

Timothy Harris’ documentary – executive produced by Al Roker of NBC’s “Today” – follows Malcolm Kenyatta, an outcandidate for the United States Senate, who rose from his origins as a “poor, Black, and gay kid from North Philly” to a representative for the marginalized – and a challenge to longstanding notions of “electability,” being a Black candidate in a state that has only ever sent straight white men to the Senate.

Screening: Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7:15 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 6. Or, stream this movie.

  1. “Single, Out”

This charming Australian series follows a gay teen in Melbourne as he emerges from the closet tentatively at first, then with gusto. His first hookup? A curly-headed hottie who also happens to be the best friend of his straight brother. Things only get wilder from there.

Streaming: Monday, Sept. 25, 9:15 p.m. @ Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, Theater 4. Or, stream this title.