2019 Reeling LGBTQ film festival

'The Shiny Shrimps'

‘The Shiny Shrimps’

From ‘Shiny Shrimps’
to ‘Scream Queen,’
the annual Windy City
tradition promises
to entertain, inspire,
amuse, arouse and
break a few hearts

Reeling, the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution for more than 35 years, kicks off fall with an exciting slate of movies that showcases the diversity of the queer experience.

From the hilarious French comedy The Shiny Shrimps on opening night to the U.S. premiere of 15 Years, Yuval Hadadi’s erotic Israeli drama of a gay couple’s relationship in freefall, the program for the 37th edition of Reeling has something to satisfy every cinephile.

The festival will takes place in Chicago September 19-29. Presenting 35 features and 13 shorts programs, nearly all of them Chicago premieres) it promises to entertain, inspire, amuse, arouse and break a few hearts along the way.

Program highlights

End of the Century, Lucio Castro’s critically acclaimed film is being hailed as a Spanish variation on Andrew Haigh’s Weekend;

The Daughters of Fire, the sexually adventurous lesbian-themed feature;

Straight Up, James Sweeney’s razor sharp-witted comedic debut;

The Garden Left Behind (the festival’s narrative centerpiece), a hard-hitting trans drama;

Steam Room Stories, a sexy camp comedy featuring Traci Lords;

Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street, the jaw-dropping story behind the one-time closeted actor Mark Patton.

The festival opens at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) on Thursday, September 19. It continues at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark St.) from September 20-26, and concludes September 27-29 at the firehouse headquarters of Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.).

Chicago Filmmakers, a 45-year-old not-for-profit media arts organization, is the presenting organization of Reeling.

Opening Night: The Shiny Shrimps
Reeling launches its ten-day festival with the Opening Night Gala presentation of The Shiny Shrimps, dual directors Cedric Le Gallo and Maxine Govare’s delightful French comedy in the tradition of La Cage aux Folles and The Adventure of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

When Matthias, a hunky Olympic champion at the end of his career, makes a homophobic statement on French TV, his punishment is to coach the Shiny Shrimps, a flamboyant amateur gay water polo team. The surly Matthias, hoping to qualify for a coveted spot at a meet that will ensure his return to glory, reluctantly agrees to take on the assignment.

The 7:00 pm Music Box Theatre Screening will be preceded by a 6:00 pm pre-party in the Music Box lounge.


Closing Night: Scream Queen: My Nightmare On Elm Street
Reeling’s closing night feature, Scream Queen: My Nightmare On Elm Street, travels back to 1985 when Mark Patton’s career seemed about to take off.

The young actor, a recent triumph in Robert Altman’s Broadway hit (and film adaptation), Come to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, had snagged the lead in the second installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. But the result – considered the gayest film in horror history – instead, destroyed that promise.

Now, decades later, Patton is ready to not only face his past but to embrace it and kill it once and for all.


Chicago films
Reeling 37 puts a special emphasis on several homegrown filmmakers. The pilot of Work in Progress, a new half-hour comedy series created by Chicago improv mainstays Abby McEnany and Tim Mason, and co-written by Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix, Sense8) will screen on Saturday, September 21 at noon followed by a panel discussion with special guests from the series.

A funny and uniquely human comedy, Work in Progressfeatures McEnany as a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke from Chicago whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. The series co-stars Chicago-based performer Karin Anglin alongside Celeste Pechous, with Julia Sweeney (Saturday Night Live, Shrill) appearing in a crucial role as herself.

Work in Progress will premiere Sunday, December 8 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.



Also coming out of Chicago are an increasing number of queer web series, which will be the focus of a panel discussion and screening of episodes from several Chicago web series.

Creatives from these series will discuss how they got started, how they achieved visibility in a crowded online environment, and what impact their web series has had on their careers.

Other locally-connected films include the Documentary Centerpiece, Making Sweet Tea, a film adaptation from directors John L. Jackson, Jr. and Nora Gross of author, playwright, performer, and Northwestern Professor E. Patrick Johnson’s best-selling book, an examination of the lives of black gay men, showing here in its world premiere.

Chicago-based actor, writer and director Jesús Canchola Sánchez makes his feature debut with Bittersweet Waters, the romantic drama about love on the down-low set in rural Mexico.

Writer-director Wendy Jo Carlton, a former Chicagoan (Easy Abby, Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, Hannah Free) returns to Reeling with her latest lesbian-themed romantic drama, Good Kisser.

Writer-director Laura Madalinski explores similar themes from a comedic standpoint in Two in the Bush: A love story.



For the full festival lineup, click here.

Ticket Information
Advance tickets and passes may be purchased online beginning August 12, 2019 or in person at Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) from September 9 to 18. Ticket prices are $13 for regular screenings at the Landmark, $11 for regular screenings at Chicago Filmmakers, with member discounts of $3 per show. Special admission programs include the opening night film, The Shiny Shrimps, $15 for the film only and $40 for the film and pre-party; and $30 for the closing night film Scream Queen: My Nightmare On Elm Street and after-party.

Pass Information
Discount passes are available at $55 for a Pick-5 Pass ($45 for members), $100 for a Pick-10 Pass ($90 for members), and $130 for a Festival Pass ($110 for members). Passes are good for regularly priced screenings only.

General Information
For more information, the public can call (773) 293-1447, consult the festival website, or follow ReelingFilmFest on Twitter, reeling.filmfest on Facebook and @reelingfilmfest on Instagram for the latest Reeling news and ticket promotions.

About Chicago Filmmakers
Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization established in 1973 that fosters the creation, appreciation, and understanding of film and video as media for artistic and personal expression, as well as media of important social and community impact. Chicago Filmmakers’ twofold mission is to serve independent film and digital video artists by supporting the creation and dissemination of new media arts works and to serve Chicago audiences by screening artistically innovative, socially relevant, and diverse films and videos.

Send your event updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.