September Events...

  • And What? Queer. Arts. Festival
  • Calgary International Film Festival
  • Cinema Queer International Film Festival
  • Copenhagen International Film Festival (CPHPIX)
  • D'un bord à l'autre
  • Dinard Festival of British Cinema
  • Edmonton International Film Festival
  • Fantastic Fest
  • Florence Queer Festival
  • Great Lakes International Film Festival
  • Kansai Queer Film Festival
  • luststreifen – Queer Cinema Basel
  • MICGenero
  • Netherlands Film Festival
  • Out on Film
  • Pink Season
  • Portland Queer Film Festival
  • Premio Sebastiane
  • Raindance Film Festival
  • Reeling Filmfest
  • Reykjavik International Film Festival
  • San Sebastián International Film Festival
  • Scottish Queer International Film Festival
  • Stamped: Pensacola LGBT Film Festival
  • Sydney Transgender International Film Festival
  • Thessaloniki International LGBTQ Film Festival
  • Vancouver International Film Festival
  • ZE Festival
  • Zurich Film Festival
Reeling Filmfest

Reeling Filmfest

The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

Thursday, 21 September 2017 until Thursday, 28 September 2017

Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival is the second longest-running film festival of its kind in the U.S. and prides itself on showcasing the best lesbian and gay films and videos from around the world. From international feature films to social issue documentaries to experimental shorts, Reeling has always presented a range of genres that demonstrates the rich diversity of work being produced. The festival is not only one of the most important cultural events for Chicago audiences, it also attracts many people from throughout the Midwest who consider the festival to be the highlight of their cinematic year.


2017 films...

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After Louie

Vincent Gagliostro / USA / 2017 / 100 mins

Queer icon Alan Cumming turns in a “fearlessly abrasive performance” as Sam, an artist haunted by the death of his lover during the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Adrift in a queer community that has seemingly passed him by and struggling with survivor’s guilt, Sam slowly finds a connection to this younger generation of gay men when a night of passion with the captivating Braeden (Zachary Booth, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON) leads to a tentative relationship.


Akira Kamiki / Brazil / 2017 / 12 mins

David discovers that his boyfriend Allen is suffering from depression and, over the course of a day, makes him see the beauty and pleasure in life’s more mundane moments.

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Against the Law

Fergus O'Brien / United Kingdom / 2017 / 84 mins

Part biopic, part documentary, O’Brien’s film utilizes the searing story of British gay rights pioneer Peter Wildeblood (portrayed by actor Daniel Mays) to shine a spotlight on the hidden world of gay men in 1950s England. In an era when homosexuality was illegal and gay men were routinely persecuted and arrested, Wildeblood’s story remains a testament to courage and fortitude.

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Amigas with Benefits

Adelina Anthony / USA / 2017 / 10 mins

Drama ensues when the wedding of two elderly lesbians is interrupted by an uninvited and unexpected guest.

Amigas with Benefits | SHORTS!

85 mins

Latina lesbians in all stages of life experience love and loss in these short films. An unexpected guest crashes the wedding of an elderly couple in AMIGAS WITH BENEFITS while a young woman’s understanding of herself is challenged by a stranger in a bar in ENCUENTRO; The future of a young couple’s relationship hangs the balance in CAFÉ DESUELADO; In UNIFORM lesbian moms butt heads over what to do when their son is sent home from school for wearing a dress; and JEANNE CORDOVA: BUTCHES, LIES, AND FEMINISM pays tribute to one of the founders of the West Coast LGBT movement. Each piece is colored by the excitement of a new beginning, the bitterness of an ending, or hope for a better and brighter future.

In This Program: Amigas with Benefits, Awaken Cup, Encuentro, Jeanne Cordova: Butches, Lies, and Feminism, Uniform

Apart From Everything

Ben Lewis / USA / 2016 / 19 mins

After a recent stint in rehab, Fran (Emmy-winner Tatiana Maslany, ORPHAN BLACK) returns to face the emotional fallout of her disappearance and make amends with the girlfriend and brother she left behind.

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Apricot Groves

Pouria Oureh / Armenia / 2016 / 80 mins

From one of the most unlikely places comes this sensitive and beautifully-realized tale centered on two brothers, one of whom must come to terms with his sibling’s identity. Aram, an Iranian Armenian who has lived most of his life in the U.S. has returned to Armenia, aided by his brother Vartan, to ask his Armenian girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage. As Vartan begins to connect with this new brother, Aram connects to his heritage, even if it cannot connect with him.


David Ambrosini / Italy / 2017 / 13 mins

Arianna, a brilliant young attorney is gearing up to interview for the job of her dreams. After many years, she has found her way to self-acceptance, but what will her prospective employer think?

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Awaken Cup

Pamela Castillo / Peru / 2017 / 9 mins

A few days before leaving the country, Pia sets up a farewell campsite for her girlfriend without knowing that she plans to establish a distance commitment. A long night and several cups of coffee will make them hesitate about the future of their relationship.

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Bad Girl

Fin Edquist / Australia / 2016 / 87 mins

Amy, a “bad girl” with a penchant for vandalism who is fresh out of juvie and new in town, gets befriended by a sweet and helpful local named Chloe. Amy’s parents are thrilled with what they hope will be a good influence on their daughter. But, as Amy and Chloe’s flirtation-tinged friendship develops, a darkness emerges that will have them fighting for their lives.

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Bayard & Me

Matt Wolf / USA / 2017 / 16 mins

Bayard Rustin, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, adopted his younger boyfriend Walter to obtain the legal protections of marriage. In this intimate love story, Walter remembers Bayard and a time when marriage equality was inconceivable.

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Joe Ahearne / United Kingdom / 2017 / 97 mins

A year after being rejected by a religious B&B owner, a gay couple, having won in court, return to the inn to gloat and stay the weekend. Their triumph turns to terror when another guest, a hulking Russian whom they perceive as anti-gay, also checks in. A terrifying series of events escalates after a body turns up dead, threatening the gay couple’s relationship and forcing them to fight for their lives. A stylish homage to Hitchcock with black comedy overtones, B&B is a whip smart, entertaining thriller.

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Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall

Katherine Fairfax Wright / USA / 2017 / 100 mins

Singer, rapper, dancer, actor, director, AMERICAN IDOL sensation, frequent RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE judge and advisor, and YouTube superstar with millions of followers, the young, black gay artist Todrick Hall adds documentary subject to his ever-lengthening list of achievements with this chronicle of the creation of his most thrilling creation: a full-scale, original musical called “Straight Outta Oz,” a remake of THE WIZARD OF OZ combined with facets from Hall’s own biography.

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Bird of Prey

Marion Hill / USA / 2016 / 19 mins

A married woman in her forties navigates a fine line between love and infatuation with her friend's daughter.

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Bones of Contention

Andrea Weiss / USA / 2017 / 75 mins

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Andrea Weiss's documentary is a fascinating portrait of the tragic life of acclaimed Spanish writer and poet Federico García Lorca, who was murdered by a right-wing Franco-regime firing squad during the Spanish Civil War. Lorca, for many, is one of the most beloved early 20th-century authors. He was also gay. Weiss uses the circumstances of Lorca’s death and disappearance to look at efforts to restore the historical memory of Franco’s more than 120 thousand victims and to excavate the hidden lives of lesbians and gays who lived under his dictatorship.

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Boys in the Trees

Nicholas Verso / Australia / 2016 / 112 mins

On Halloween 1997, Corey and Jonah, two estranged former childhood friends, embark on a surreal journey through their haunted memories, dreams, and fears. Heavily influenced by Ray Bradbury’s seminal classic “The Halloween Tree,” acclaimed writer-director Nicholas Verso’s film is gorgeously shot with “tremendous visual flair” and assuredly acted by its young teen cast.

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Tyler Byrnes / USA / 2016 / 10 mins

When a young man suffering from anorexia is pressured to eat breakfast by his boyfriend, the couple are thrust into an otherworld where their anxieties and frustrations are made horrifyingly real.

Broad Strokes

Phillip Vernon / USA / 2017 / 16 mins

On the tail of a dying New Year’s Eve party, queer best friends Annie and Austin pursue romantic temptations against their better judgments - effectively breaking their resolutions hours after making them.

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Brown Girls | 195 Lewis

Chanelle Aponte Pearson / USA / 2016 / 47 mins

BROWN GIRLS is an intimate story of the lives of two young women of color living in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. This Chicago-made series is presented by Northwestern University’s OpenTV, with support from the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, a program of Chicago Filmmakers. This selection of episodes (1, 3, 4, & 7) focuses on queer writer Leila. Queer black women take center stage in director Chanelle Aponte Pearson’s refreshingly honest and incisive new web series 195 LEWIS. Set in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, among a dynamic community of activists, artists, and culture-makers, 195 LEWIS is centered on Yuri, a confident, vibrant twenty-something artist, and her partner Camille, a PhD grad looking for work, as they decide to open up their relationship and explore polyamory. But change invites problems, and conflicts arise as their individual definitions of what a polyamorous lifestyle looks like change.

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By the People: 25 Years of Community Archiving at Lether Archives & Museum

Christina Court / USA / 2016 / 39 mins

In 1991, Chuck Renslow created Leather Archives & Museum to preserve the history of Leathermen lost to AIDS and AIDS-related illness. Within 25 years, LA&M has evolved into an internationally-recognized nonprofit with a library, museum, and archive containing rare and one-of-a-kind materials about the Leather, kink, S/M, fetish, and alternative sexuality communities.

Carol Support Group

Allison Tate / USA / 2017 / 8 mins

A support group for people addicted to the film CAROL descends into melodramatic mayhem as superfan Blanche embodies Carol Aird, luring her fellow addicts and therapist into temptation.

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Cat Skin

Daniel Grasskamp / United Kingdom / 2017 / 97 mins

Young lesbian photographer Cat is a loner who prefers the company of her feline friend to her fellow students. Living her life through her camera lens, Cat focuses on a particular subject of interest: April, a lovely music student with a hotheaded boyfriend and a tumultuous home life. Just as an awkward encounter turns into a blossoming romance, April’s shaky relationship with her mother and her rejection of her boyfriend becomes dangerous for both Cat and April.

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Center of My World

Jakob M. Erwa / Germany/Austria / 2016 / 115 mins

An improbable—and very hot—affair between adorable 17 year-old twink Phil and the newly crowned high school jock Nicholas is threatened when the latter isn’t about to have limitations put on his emotions or his sexual identity. And the trouble between Phil’s twin sister and his free spirited mom has started to engulf him as well. Will Phil ever be able to find the center of his world again? Jakob Erwa’s energetic debut film palpably captures the high drama and rampant sexuality of adolescence in this winning coming of age tale.

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Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi / USA / 2017 / 90 mins

A masterful examination of the life of Chavela Vargas, the legendary Costa Rican lesbian singer, who was one of the foremost practitioners of traditional Mexican music known as Rancheras. The intimate film draws on never before seen interviews and performance footage of Chavela, as well as those of her contemporaries, to create an unforgettable portrait of a woman at the top in a male dominated field who has become one of Mexico’s national treasures.

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Jessica Adler / USA / 2016 / 10 mins

With the help of her best friend, Christine redefines her perception of strength and what it means to be herself.

Cock N’ Bull 2

Nathan Adloff / USA / 2017 / 14 mins

Wes and Chris, in couples counseling, have decided to explore opening up the relationship to spice up their sex life

Dating My Mother

Mike Roma / USA / 2017 / 81 mins

How close is too close? Are there things that a mother and son shouldn’t share? MILFs and Millennials everywhere might just get the answers they’ve been seeking in writer-director Mike Roma’s charming slice-of-life comedy feature debut. Danny (Patrick Reilly), is a gay, aimless 23-year-old recent college graduate living back home with his widowed mother Joan (Kathryn Erbe, LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT). Mom and son’s close relationship is challenged when both enter the world of online dating. Who will find their Mr. Right first?

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Jake Graf / United Kingdom / 2016 / 13 mins

As dawn creeps across London, two outcasts meet in the darkness, more afraid of themselves than each other. As the sun rises, the pair are forced to look at themselves and realize it takes more than eyes to see inside a soul.

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The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

David France / USA / 2017 / 105 mins

Self-described “street queen” and trans icon Marsha P. Johnson was a fixture on NYC’s Christopher Street and a pioneering activist who helped ignite the Stonewall Riots and much more. Academy Award-nominated director David France’s (HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE) film is structured as a mystery—with activist Victoria Cruz playing the role of detective investigating Johnson’s still unexplained death. France presents a portrait of the heady early days of the rights movement that also speaks to our present moment. Marsha P. Johnson stands as a vital and uncompromising force and remains an important role model for trans and gender nonconforming individuals and activists everywhere.

Devil Wears a Suit

Eli Mak / USA / 2017 / 20 mins

A Jewish boy must decide whether to ‘cure’ his homosexuality with a new injectable ‘treatment’ or be ostracised from his religious community forever.

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Jake Graf / United Kingdom / 2016 / 15 mins

Growing up in 1950’s England in an intolerant and uninformed world, young Chris Winters struggles to fit into the gender roles dictated by wider society.

EastSiders 3: Out West

Kit Williamson / USA / 2017 / 90 mins

The popular web series EASTSIDERS, whose debut episodes in 2012 went viral on YouTube and is now a Netflix-exclusive program, is back with a new season, and you can see it here first. Series creator Kit Williamson’s darkly-humorous Emmy-nominated drama has beat the odds most web-based series face, thanks in no small part to the series’ no-nonsense depiction of gay life in Los Angeles. Season Three finds Cal (Williamson) and Thom (Van Hansis) leaving New York after a difficult year and road-tripping it back home to southern California to hopefully start anew. As they travel west, their troubled relationship remains troubled as they continue to try, and keep failing, to remain monogamous—beset by a less-than-luxurious camper, an encounter with a tempting sexy stranger, and their continuing disagreements. The dynamic and eclectic cast includes Traci Lords (CRY BABY), Wilson Cruz (MY SO-CALLED LIFE), Tuc Watkins (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES), porn actor Colby Keller, Matthew McKelligon (INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR.), Constance Wu (FRESH OFF THE BOAT), and Willam (NIP/TUCK, RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE).

Emotional Rollercoaster…Buckle Up! | SHORTS!

91 mins

Tensions run high in these emotional dramas. The risks of exposing their feelings pick away at the characters in ONE UP and BIRD OF PREY; In HAPPY a young woman spends her birthday with a stranger she meets on a dating app, while the addition of an ex’s cat to the family tests a couple’s relationship in MOMO; Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) stars in APART FROM EVERYTHING as Fran, a young woman who returns from rehab and must attempt to repair her relationships with her girlfriend and brother. From the anxiety of a first crush to the difficulties of managing addiction and maintaining a long-term relationship, these stories are reminders that when it comes to love, nothing is ever easy.

In This Program: Apart From Everything, Bird of Prey, Happy, Momo, One Up

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En Algun Lugar

Tadeo Garcia / USA/Mexico / 2017 / 120 mins

Writer-director Tadeo Garcia follows up his 2004 debut feature ON THE DOWN LOW with a powerful love story set against the backdrop of the controversial U.S. immigration system. Abel and Diego, a young gay couple from Chicago, find their relationship tested when confronted with a familial crisis that will force them to confront the undocumented status of one of them. Can their love survive the dangerous choice the couple ultimately makes?


Florencia Manovil / USA / 2017 / 16 mins

A regular night out drinking with friends turns into an eye-opening evening when Claudia encounters a captivating stranger who challenges not only her perceptions of Latinxs - but her understanding of herself.

Fantastic Femmes and Where to Find Them | SHORTS!

89 mins

Relationships are tricky and emotions even trickier in these stories of love and lust. A New Year’s Eve party ends in broken resolutions for best friends Annie and Austin, who pursue romantic encounters with less-than-ideal partners in BROAD STROKES; A LACK OF DATING IN BROOKLYN tells the story of a young woman’s realization that her inability to have a lasting relationship may be her own fault; while in SPAGHETTI ROMANCE Abby’s relationship it put to the test when her first meeting with her girlfriend’s mother goes poorly. Mayhem runs rampant in Chicago-made short CAROL SUPPORT GROUP when one woman embodies the title character of the support group’s obsession, the Todd Haynes’ film Carol; and two woman must face reality when their fantasies keep them from having meaningful relationships in SHELBY’S VACATION. A roller coaster of highs and lows, these shorts get at the heart of the complicated mess of modern relationships.

In This Program: Broad Strokes, Carol Support Group, A Lack of Dating in Brooklyn, Shelby’s Vacation, Spaghetti Romance

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Freak Show

Trudie Styler / USA / 2017 / 95 mins

Even a transfer to an ultra-conservative high school isn’t going to get Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther, the young Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME) to lower his freak flag to half-mast. A brutal beating can’t keep Billy down for long and soon he’s vying with a nasty mean girl (Abigail Breslin) to become prom queen. The supporting cast includes the legendary Bette Midler as Billy’s beloved Muv, Laverne Cox, AnnaSophia Robb, and Ian Nelson. Trudie Styler makes her directorial debut with this charming coming of age tale that’s as witty and as fearless as its young protagonist.

Golden Boys

Jill Riley / USA / 2016 / 8 mins

Three longtime friends on an unexpected bender end up back at their old private school looking to cause trouble, but their trip down memory lane reveals the true consequences of having been the school's ‘golden boys’.


Golden Boys | SHORTS!

89 mins

Whether they’re navigating the difficulties of depression or coming to terms with events of the past, the characters in these shorts find themselves putting it all on the line for love. Old friendships are faced with unfortunate truths in GOLDEN BOYS and MARZ; small, seemingly insignificant moments become meaningful for the couples in AFTERGLOW and THE NEWS TODAY; in BREAKFAST, a couple is confronted with their frustrations and anxieties in an unexpected way. A dating app offers a teen a solution to his search for sex in TOMMYTEEN18; while another young man is confronted with a choice between “curing” his homosexuality or being rejected by his religious community in DEVIL WEARS A SUIT.

In This Program: Afterglow, Breakfast, Devil Wears a Suit, Golden Boys, Marz, The News Today, TommyTeen18

Hang On Tight | SHORTS!

88 mins

Hang on tight—this collection of cinematically stunning international shorts will keep you on the edge of your seat. In PRAY FOR US, a group of gay teens hide in a supermarket only to face a religious woman and an unexpected turn of events; KOPŘIVA (THE NETTLE) explores the complex relationship between a young man and his girlfriend’s father as a closeted gay Muslim teenager struggles with conflicting feelings and attractions in PRIA; a family myth is exposed in the strange and beautiful SPARROW; and in SCAR TISSUE, a chance encounter between two men lead them to confront the realities of the different worlds they come from. From gut-wrenching thrillers to cerebral dramas, these films will keep your eyes open and your heart pounding.

In This Program: The Nettle, Pray for Us, Pria, Scar Tissue, Sparrow

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Happiness Adjacent

Rob Williams / USA / 2017 / 95 mins

On a cruise to Mexico two male passengers meet by accident and find themselves involved in an illicit affair that unexpectedly goes beyond the physical. What’s even more surprising is that one of the men is married—to a woman. Is this just a holiday affair or the start of something more? Sexy and emotionally insightful, this ninth feature from writer/director Rob Williams (ROLE/PLAY, SHARED ROOMS, OUT TO KILL, MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY) was shot guerilla-style on an iPhone on a week-long cruise in the actual exotic locations.


Laura Dudgeon / Australia / 2017 / 12 mins

A sexually inexperienced and lonely young woman downloads a dating app on her birthday and seeks out a casual encounter with another woman.


Jake Graf / United Kingdom / 2017 / 4 mins

Starring an impressive all-trans cast, headspace gives a rare and intimate glimpse into the trials and tribulations faced by trans people on a daily basis.

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Hello Again | OPENING NIGHT!

Tom Gustafson / USA / 2017 / 105 mins

Traveling through the 20th-century in a series of genre bending lust-filled musical vignettes, HELLO AGAIN follows ten lovestruck souls who pair-off in an erotic daisy-chain of sex and song, looking for meaning beyond their steamy hookups. Tyler Blackburn, Cheyenne Jackson, Audra McDonald, Martha Plimpton, T.R. Knight, Rumer Willis, Jenna Ushkowitz, Sam Underwood, vocalist Al Calderon, and Nolan Gerard Funk co-star in this long awaited cinematic adaptation of Michael John LaChiusa’s critically acclaimed 1994 Off-Broadway musical (in turn, inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s play LA RONDE). Prepare to indulge your senses with this visually stylish, ultra-sensual musical extravaganza from director Tom Gustafson and screenwriter Cory Krueckeberg (WERE THE WORLD MINE, GETTING GO).


Rain Valdex & Sarah Poynter / USA / 2017 / 10 mins

In this fantastical and highly unlikely story of love and friendship, a transwoman is 'kiss-hexed' by a transient individual and must find another person to kiss by midnight or she expires.

Honor Council

Scott Simonsen / USA / 2017 / 12 mins

A radical bi-gender high school outcast takes down the top bully with dildo nunchucks and must face a jury of peers to decide his fate.

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I Dream in Another Language

Ernesto Contreras / Mexico/Netherlands / 2017 / 103 mins

Deeply poignant and moving with a mystery at its core, I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE is the story of a young linguist who travels to the jungles of Mexico to research a language on the verge of disappearing. Once there, he discovers that its last two speakers clashed 50 years ago and have refused to speak to each other since. Attempting to reunite them, Martin discovers a secret past—and a forbidden story. Exquisitely photographed and acted, filmmaker Ernesto Contreras and his screenwriter sibling Carlos Contreras use language and metaphor to weave an unexpected and sensitive late-in-life coming-of-age film.

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In A Heartbeat

Beth David & Esteban Bravo / USA / 2017 / 4 mins

A closeted schoolboy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.

In A Heartbeat | SHORTS!

90 mins

These coming of age tales are all about coming out, changing relationships, and new beginnings. Jota shares a secret with his best friend Santi in SWIMMING POOL; and couples experiment with the idea of an open relationship in MONOGAMISH and SEEKING: JACK TRIPPER; a heart that can’t be tamed could mean love or humiliation for a closeted schoolboy in IN A HEARTBEAT; while newly single Jonah seeks out a relationship in SOMETHING NEW; PLEASE HOLD tells the story of a random hook up that leads to an HIV test and an unexpected friendship; the experimental animated documentary THE MEDIEVAL PEOPLE depicts the life of Chicago AIDS activist Lori Cannon; and BAYARD & ME recounts the relationship of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and his younger boyfriend Walter. Whether their ventures are successful or end in disaster, the lives of these characters will never be the same.

In This Program: Bayard & Me, In A Heartbeat, The Medieval People, Monogamish, Please Hold, Seeking: Jack Tripper, Something New, Swimming Pool


Hilow / United Kingdom / 2017 / 6 mins

Trans elder Andrew was living a pretty solitary existence until he met Harriet.

Jeanne Cordova: Butches, Lies, and Feminism

Gregorio Davila / USA / 2017 / 39 mins

A tribute to the life of Jeanne Cordova; butch, Latina, feminist lesbian who was one of the founders of the West Coast LGBT movement.

A Lack of Dating in Brooklyn

Drew Van Steenbergen / USA / 2017 / 16 mins

Languishing in an unfulfilling quasi-relationship, Sam begins to have a horrifying realization - her romantic discontent is due to her own laziness and not, as she had previously assumed, the fault of every other human being.

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Lives: Visible

Michelle Citron / USA / 2017 / 35 mins

From local, award-winning filmmaker Michelle Citron, LIVES: VISIBLE explores 2000 private snapshots, hidden away for over fifty years, which reveal the rich history of Chicago’s working class butch/femme life in the pre-Stonewall era.

Lives: Visible | SHORTS!

83 mins

Not all history makes it into the textbooks, which means someone else has to step in to preserve the stories that get written out or overlooked. LOVE LETTER RESCUE SQUAD follows the co-founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the largest collection of materials by and about lesbians, and local filmmaker Michelle Citron examines the history of Chicago working class butch/femme life in LIVES: VISIBLE; accompanying these documentaries are RINK, LONG DISTANCE, CHRISTINE, and DUSK—four stories of self-discovery and first relationships that recall the universal queer experience of recognizing oneself for the first time. Whether it’s by telling the true stories of those who came before us or sharing a work of fiction that speaks truth to the masses, these films seek to bring to light lives that might otherwise be forgotten.

In This Program: Christine, Dusk, Lives: Visible, Long Distance, Love Letter Rescue Squad, Rink

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Long Distance

Roberto Espinosa / USA / 2017 / 9 mins

Amy Holman is in love with a girl from Cleveland, Ohio named Kiki. They've never met in person and yet they know so much about each other thanks to the internet.

Love Letter Rescue Squad

Megan Rossman / USA / 2016 / 7 mins

“Our history was disappearing as quickly as we were making it.” With that realization, Deborah Edel and Joan Nestle co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians.

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Market Value

Wendell Etherly / USA / 2016 / 132 mins

Fifteen years ago, a figure shrouded in darkness left a crying baby on the steps of a church. Now, a private investigator brings news that Audrey and her wife Carrie never thought they’d have to deal with: their adopted son’s biological grandparents are determined to find their grandchild and raise him as their own. As the murky truth behind the adoption is revealed, the couple must use whatever means necessary to keep their family together.


Bobby Yan / USA / 2017 / 11 mins

A childhood friendship is put to the test after a fleeting encounter stirs up uncomfortable feelings and emotions that neither are equipped to answer.

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Masquerading: To Hell and Back

Sofia de Fay / South Africa / 2017 / 13 mins

Exploring the long, complicated 40-year friendship of two transwomen/drag artists who survived years of brutal discrimination at the hands of the Apartheid government for being Cape Coloured and gender-nonconforming.

The Medieval People

Michal Janicki / USA / 2017 / 4 mins

Experimental, animated documentary film about Lori Cannon, the legendary AIDS activist from Chicago.

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Yun Joo Chang / Korea / 2016 / 15 mins

A couple and an ex girlfriend are forced to reexamine their relationships with each other as the pair takes custody of the ex’s cat, Momo.


Carlton Daniel / USA / 2016 / 14 mins

Cooper is eager to take his relationship to the next level, but when his boyfriend floats the idea of an open relationship, he has to rethink his previous expectations of what "love" really looks like.

Naughty Night Owls | SHORTS!

83 mins

This collection of sexy shorts will leave you a-hootin’ and a-hollerin' for more. In COCK N’ BULL 2 a couple decides to spice up their sex life by opening up their relationship. THE NIGHT CLEANER takes viewers on a tour of one of Canada’s busiest gay bathhouses, with Travis the janitor as a guide; a Sunday night hook up goes wrong in PRICKED; and a gay Russian man seeks a casual BDSM encounter after receiving an emotional message from his father in VISITOR; SECRET SANTA SEX PARTY (warning: NSFW!) goes behind closed doors to interview members of a group of older gay men who meet every month for companionship...and steamy sex; and BY THE PEOPLE: 25 YEARS OF ARCHIVING AT LEATHER ARCHIVES & MUSEUM, from local filmmaker Christina Court, recounts the beginnings of the internationally recognized library, museum, and archive, and the important legacy left behind by Chuck Renslow.

In This Program: By the People: 25 Years of Community Archiving at Lether Archives & Museum, Cock N’ Bull 2, The Night Cleaner, Pricked, Secret Santa Sex Party, Visitor

The Nettle

Piaoyu Xie / Czech Republic / 2017 / 22 mins

From the moment when Nikola’s girlfriend Ana puts the lipstick on Nikola’s lip, nothing is ever the same. But a promise still needs to be kept, Nikola and Ana get on the train to visit Ana’s father Krystof.

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The News Today

Lisa Donato / USA / 2017 / 12 mins

The familiar and mundane moments between two guys in love become precious in an instant.

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The Night Cleaner

Blair Fukumura / Canada / 2016 / 5 mins

As the night cleaner in Canada's busiest gay bathhouse, Travis has his work cut out for him. With good humour he takes us on an amusing and sometimes harrowing tour through his nightly duties.

One Up

Eimi Imanishi / USA / 2016 / 15 mins

Hadley is a star on the hockey rink, but a recluse in her social life. She’s secretly crushing on her teammate Christine, but rejection could send her spiraling.

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Palace of Fun

Eadward Stocks / United Kingdom / 2016 / 80 mins

Rich girl Lily (Phoebe Naughton) meets not so rich but awfully cute Finn (Andrew Mullan) one evening in a British nightclub. Finn is invited to spend a week in Lily’s opulent Sussex house until her parents return from a trip to Italy. The situation is immediately disrupted by the presence of Lily’s gay, arrogant younger brother Jamie (George Stocks). Jamie discovers a revealing secret about Finn but instead of telling Lily what he knows, the cynical and calculating Jamie decides to use it to play a dangerous and increasingly sinister game. Stocks’ deliciously entertaining thriller will keep you guessing until the end and recalls the acrid, sexy allure of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels.


Hillel Rate / Israel / 2017 / 11 mins

A young, Orthodox Jewish woman agrees to meet up with her estranged sibling before she realizes that comes along with accepting their new gender expression.

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The Pass

Ben A. Williams / United Kingdom / 2016 / 88 mins

A memorable encounter one night between two hunky soccer players, 19-year-old Jason (Russell Tovey, LOOKING) and Ade (Arize Kene, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM), is the basis of this provocative romantic drama. It’s the night before their first-ever professional match and Jason and Ade are keyed up in their shared hotel room. Lounging in their tighty whities, they chat, playfully wrestle, watch a teammate’s sex tape, and prep for the next day. Then—out of nowhere—one kisses the other. The impact of this “pass” reverberates through the next ten years of their lives—and won’t be resolved until Jason and Ade meet up again. Will the truth of what happened that fateful night finally come out?

Please Hold

Jerell Rosales / USA / 2016 / 15 mins

When a condom breaks during a random hook-up with a stranger, Danny gets an HIV test and an unexpected new friend.

Pray for Us

Andrés Madrigal Alvarado / Costa Rica / 2017 / 16 mins

A group of gay teens hide in a supermarket only to face a religious woman and an unexpected turn of events.

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Yudho Aditya / Indonesia / 2016 / 21 mins

With his whole life planned out for him by his overprotective mother, gay Muslim teenager Aris struggles with the conflicting notions of tradition, duty, and his own personal idea of happiness.


Justin Batchelor / United Kingdom / 2017 / 6 mins

It's Sunday night, hook-up time - but the mood goes wrong when Adam thinks too much.

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Prom King, 2010

Christopher Schaap / USA / 2017 / 96 mins

Charlie is an adorably awkward 20-year-old freshman attending college in New York City. Charlie’s also a movie crazed romantic fool whose idea of true love keeps getting shot down by reality. Christopher Schaap, who also wrote and directed, stars as the wide-eyed Charlie, imbuing the character with an irresistible sweetness and vulnerability. The result is a delightful spin on the classic Hollywood sex comedy, updated for the modern era.

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The Ring Thing

William Sullivan / USA / 2018 / 120 mins

When filmmaker Sarah accidentally proposes to her girlfriend Kristen, it just might mean the end of their relationship instead of a new beginning. While Kristen is enthusiastic at the prospect, it turns out that Sarah has deep-seated fears of marriage, rooted in her own parents’ divorce. A happy, romantic lesbian relationship threatened by a heteronormative institution—of course! While Sarah is working on her issues, is not sure she can wait for her to figure out what she wants. Will the ring become a broken circle, or remain a symbol of unity?


Gail Hackston / United Kingdom / 2016 / 7 mins

When eleven year old tomboy Jane inadvertently flirts with another girl at the local ice rink she is amazed and surprised when the girl flirts back.

Saturday Church | CLOSING NIGHT!

Damon Cardasis / USA / 2017 / 90 mins

This audacious hybrid—part drama, part cheeky comedy, part musical—is pulled off with aplomb by debuting writer-director Damon Cardasis and his young cast of newcomers. After the recent death of his father, Ulysses (Luka Kain) has begun experimenting with his sexuality and identity; his nights are full of stolen nylons and high heels. But Aunt Rose (Regina Taylor, I’LL FLY AWAY) is having none of this so Ulysses flees the Bronx, finding himself enthralled by a new group of colorful, streetwise friends who introduce him to the Ball community. This thrilling, genre busting film, soulful and heartfelt, has received raves on the film festival circuit and is a superlative, and tender, coming-of-age story.

Scar Tissue

Nish Gera / Netherlands / 2017 / 14 mins

Hoping to escape the ghosts of his past in Aleppo, Sami moves to Amsterdam to rebuild. A chance encounter with a man named Johan leads him to confront the realities of the different worlds they come from.

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Seat in Shadow

Henry Coombes / 2016 / 82 mins

You have never met anyone quite like the eccentric Albert (David Sillers in a bravura performance), a gay, free spirited, aging painter. Into his life comes the doomy, gloomy Ben (Jonathan Leslie). Ben is having problems with his controlling boyfriend and his Granny (Marcella McIntosh) figures that Albert—who practices Jung-inspired psychotherapy on the side—can help get Ben back on track. And slowly, delightfully—as their unconventional therapy sessions progress—that’s just what happens. Out of the imagination of acclaimed Scottish artist Henry Coombes comes this offbeat and perceptive study of social mores, sexual excess, and the symbiotic relationship between doctor and patient, teacher and pupil, artist and muse.

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James Fanizza / Canada / 2017 / 80 mins

Alex (James Fanizza—who also wrote and directed) and Sebastian (Alex House) meet one fateful evening and sparks fly as a passionate fling kicks into high gear. But Alex has a boyfriend and Sebastian is only visiting Toronto for one week until he has to return home to Argentina. To complicate matters further, Alex’s boyfriend is Sebastian’s cousin. Sebastian chronicles their week-long romance as both men learn to accept each other’s differences, overcome their pasts, and let love into their hearts. As the week quickly passes and Sebastian’s time in Toronto comes to a close, can the two of them take a chance on love or will they lose each other for good? This astutely observed urban romantic drama also stars Katya (Brian McCook) from RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE, who offers plenty of sassy support.

Secret Santa Sex Party

Charles Lum & Todd Verow / USA / 2016 / 12 mins

A group of older gay men get together every month for companionship, camaraderie, and sex.

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Seeking: Jack Tripper

Quinlan Orear / USA / 2016 / 14 mins

A gay married couple tries to have a threesome in an attempt to overcome a rut in their relationship, only to realize just how rusty domestication has left their pickup game.

Sensitivity Training

Melissa Finell / USA / 2016 / 87 mins

Dr. Serena Wolfe thinks feelings are overrated. As a gifted microbiologist whose only concern is for her bacteria samples, she has little time for small talk and, well…other people. But with her job on the line because of her bad attitude, in bounces Caroline, a bubbly sensitivity coach who introduces her to tact, a cute little turtle named Fleming, and feelings she didn’t even know were possible in her cold, dead heart.

Shelby’s Vacation

Vickie Sampson / USA / 2017 / 39 mins

Shelby sets out from L.A. on a much-needed vacation to mend her heart from its latest unrequited crush and ends up at a rustic mountain resort where she meets manager Carol, who has her own fantasies that are getting in the way of creating a real relationship.


Dimitris Toulias / United Kingdom / 2017 / 11 mins

Two estranged sisters, religious Fran and transgender Steph, reconcile their differences during the course of one night where honesty is the only policy.

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Something Like Summer

David Berry / USA / 2017 / 115 mins

Cutie pie Benjamin Bentley (Grant Davis) is an out-of-the closet theater kid, while Tim Wyman (Davis Santos) is the hunky town jock. When Ben happily discovers that his attraction to Tim is reciprocated, this melodramatic musical tale takes off, spanning their often tumultuous relationship over the years. This crowd pleasing romantic drama with songs—a gay variation on melodramas like BEACHES—brings a beloved series of Young Adult novels to life as the two lead characters explore the complex lines between friends, lovers, and strangers, enduring love and heartbreak along the way.

Something New

TJ Marchbank / USA / 2017 / 15 mins

After a break up, Jonah struggles to open up to a new relationship with awkward/hilarious/disastrous results.

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The Son I Never Had

Pidgeon Pagonis / USA / 2017 / 25 mins

Local intersex artist and activist Pidgeon Pagonis realized why they never quite fit in when they finally got their hands on their medical records freshman year of college. Painful memories laced with family interviews shed light on one of medicine's darkest secrets.

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Spaghetti Romance

Carrie Finklea / USA / 2017 / 11 mins

Set in Sicily, Abby meets her girlfriend’s conservative mother for the first time. When the encounter goes awry, she decides to take matters into her own hands -- Italian style.


Welby Ings / New Zealand / 2017 / 15 mins

When the truth behind a family myth is exposed, a young boy finds the strength to stand up for himself in an unusual way.

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Mari Walker / USA / 2016 / 12 mins

As summer draws to a close, a young transwoman finds freedom in a secret midnight swim.

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Swimming Pool

Carlos Ruano / Spain / 2017 / 10 mins

In the outskirts of Madrid, Santi and Jota can usually be found drinking in the park, hitting the clubs, and talking about girls. When Jota is feeling off one day, Santi wants to know what’s up - but how will he feel when Jota finally shares his secret?


Calí dos Anjos / Brazil / 2017 / 10 mins

Portraits from a trans cartoonist whose interactive website allows trans people to share their experiences and the challenges they face in life as trans individuals.

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Take a Walk on the Wildside

Lisa Rideout / Canada / 2017 / 15 mins

Opening the doors to one of Toronto’s oldest cross-dressing stores, get a glimpse of the tender relationships between the eccentric store owner and her customers, revealing that the store remains a beacon of support for many in the community.

Take a Walk on the Wildside | SHORTS!

96 mins

From the seemingly mundane to the wondrously wild - this collection of short documentaries highlights the very real lives of queer, trans, intersex, and non-binary folks from around the world and right here at home. Meet a Brazilian cartoonist with an interactive trans-centric website in TAILOR; explore the complicated lives of two friends fighting discrimination and apartheid government in MASQUERADING: TO HELL AND BACK; join trans activists and veterans in our fight for equality in UMBRELLA and TRANSGENDER, AT WAR AND IN LOVE; meet unlikely but adorable friends, Andrew and Harriet, in INCOMPLETE; visit Toronto’s oldest cross-dressing store in TAKE A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE; and uncover long-hidden truths on a journey to self discovery with local intersex artist and activist, Pidgeon Pagonis, in THE SON I NEVER HAD. Unapologetically authentic, these stories will open your eyes and warm your heart.

In This Program: Incomplete, Masquerading: To Hell and Back, The Son I Never Had, Tailor, Take a Walk on the Wildside, Transgender, At War and in Love, Umbrella

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Vicent Fitz-Jim / Netherlands / 2017 / 16 mins

Bridging the void between childhood and maturity, fifteen year old Tommy loses himself in his search for male sex - a dating app seems to offer a solution.

Transgender, At War and in Love

Fiona Dawson / USA / 2015 / 11 mins

Young, dual military couple, Logan and Laila, just want to serve their country, have a home together, and create a family - but it's all on the line because they are both transgender and navigating the prejudices and polices that dictate their lives in the military and beyond.

Trials and Triumphs | SHORTS!

86 mins

From witchy hexes to your everyday microaggressions, this collection of narrative shorts highlights a range of trans experiences from silly to serious. HEADSPACE brings to light everyday situations that become real challenges when faced by trans individuals; in ARIANNA a job interview proves to be a bigger obstacle than expected; the school’s top bully is no match for a loner’s dildo nunchucks in HONOR COUNCIL; a transwoman searches for someone to save her from a deadly spell in HEXED; religious beliefs and family ties test each other in PAPEROCK and SIS; while characters find self-acceptance in DAWN and SWIM. Faced with difficulties big and small, relatable and fantastic, the characters in these tales deliver a message of perseverance in the face of uncertainty.

In This Program: Arianna, Dawn, Headspace, Hexed, Honor Council, Paperock, Sis, Swim


Ryhs Ernst / USA / 2017 / 16 mins

Against the backdrop of the Trump presidency, Umbrella chronicles the stories of four transgender individuals across America united in their passion to create change.


Ellie Foumbi / USA / 2017 / 11 mins

Lesbian moms (played by Jody Christopherson and ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’s Laura Gómez [Flores]) are at odds with what to do when their 6-year-old son is sent home from school for wearing a dress.


Daniyar Aynitdinov / Russia / 2017 / 7 mins

After receiving an emotional message from his estranged father, a Russian gay man cruises the internet in hopes of finding solace in a casual BDSM hookup.

Woman on Fire

Julie Sokolow / USA / 2016 / 90 mins

Brooke Guinan, a Long Island-born, third generation FDNY firefighter who happens to be transgender, is front and center in this fascinating and inspiring portrait of a woman working in a profession filled with unsung heroes, who became a hero for having the courage to be herself. WOMAN ON FIRE investigates the interwoven dynamics of two families—the Guinans and the FDNY. At its heart, Brooke’s battle for self-determination and acceptance by both is as memorable as she is.


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