Webb back at Reeling fest helm after hiatus to retool

Reeling founder Brenda Webb

FOUNDER BRENDA WEBB is back at the helm of Reeling: Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, after she took it on hiatus in 2012 to retool and focus on development work, which is paying off with Chicago Filmmakers’ forthcoming move into the Ridge Avenue Firehouse.

Reeling’s 32nd edition will run Sept. 18-25 at the Music Box and Landmark Century theatres. It was only the second LGBT festival anywhere when Webb, executive director of Chicago Filmmakers, launched it in 1981.

Windy City Times critic Richard Knight and author and activist Gretchen Blickensderfer ran the festival last year, continuing to operate out of Chicago Filmmakers’ office.  This year Webb is running the show again with programming director Alexndra Ensign, marketing and PR director Gary Kuzminski, and CIMMfest’s Josh Chicoine as operations manager.

Reeling opens at the Music Box with Eric Schaeffer’s Boy Meets Girl, a coming-of age comedy starring first-time transgender actress Michelle Hendley. 

The rest of the fest is at Landmark Century, with highlights including Tom at the Farm by Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother); Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw (Skyfall); Anatomy of a Love Seen by Nicole Conn (Elena Undone); and horror comedy Crazy Bitches starring Guinevere Turner (Go Fish).

INES SOMMER (Beneath the Blindfold) of Sommer Filmworks LLC is making the documentary, 32-Hour Harvest. It follows three days in the life of Henry’s Farm, the Mackinaw River Valley farm that Henry Brockman operates with his family, growing organic produce for sale at the Evanston Farmers Market and to Chicago area restaurants. 

“While 32-Hour Harvest is tightly focused on three days, one farm, and one family, it is at the same time about what is possible, and what is necessary,” Sommer says.  “The predominant form of agriculture practiced today is destroying soil, water, wildlife habitat, and entire ecosystems.” 

Sommer is producing with Terra Brockman, and Anya Traisman, who originated the project.

ANNE DE MARE AND KIRSTEN KELLY’S documentary The Home Stretch, which follows five years in the lives of three homeless Chicago Public Schools students, screens Sept. 12-18 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  A co-production of Kartemquin Films and Spargel Media, The Home Stretch premiered in April at Hot Docs in Toronto.  It will air on PBS next year after a theatrical tour.

LAWRENCE LEE WALLACE of Deep Productions Studios’ fan film Night Thrasher: Rave screens Aug. 22 in the Wizard World Film Festival at Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont.  Eric Lane (Trapped in the Closet) stars as the ‘90s Marvel Comics character.

PRADEEP PAGA of Blue Life Productions is in post-production on Mission Italian, starring Don Kress as an aging mafioso who recruits a gang of amateur criminals to aid in his first U.S. bank heist.  Alex Whitmer wrote the script.  Chris Ramirez produced.

THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT’S Chicago On Screen series showcases local films with park screenings throughout September.  It opens Sept. 5 with Jason and Jean Boulware’s documentary White Lotus Rising, about the Ten Thousand Ripples public Buddha sculptures project, screening at Ping Tom Park.

Selections also include Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs’s Louder Than a Bomb; Etta Worthington’s Hat Boxes; Chicago Peace Builders’ The Peace Exchange; PSAs by Free Spirit Media; Diane Wilmouth’s Mucca Pazza doc Fanfare for Marching Band; Ricardo Gamboa, Ben Kolak, and Catherine Sullivans Maydays; Tirtza Even’s Natural Life; Samuel Paakkonen’s Ghetto Art; Jack C. Newell’s Close Quarters and Seth Boggess’ Left Alone.

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