Reeling Film Festival announces 2021 program


Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival this week announced the full slate of programming for 2021.

The festival opens on Sept. 23 at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and running Sept. 24 – 30at the Landmark Century Centre Cinemas and virtually from Sept. 27 – Oct. 7. This year, there are 42 shows including 33 feature films and 9 short film programs. The festival includes films from more than 15 countries including Israel, Turkey, Iran, Australia, Italy, Romania, and Chile. Now in its 39th year, Reeling is the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution.

“Cinema is supposed to be communal, and after more than a year of social distancing and isolation it’s never been more important to experience independent film with one another,” said Reeling Film Festival founder and Executive Director of Chicago Filmmakers Brenda Webb. “Filmmakers interpret the world around them and bring us new perspectives and new ideas with stories of love and loss, bravery and struggle, humor and revelation — the tapestry of the human experience. Reeling’s 39th slate of films celebrates and embrace this crucial piece of our shared existence.”

Opening night features “Firebird”, UK director Peeter Rebane’s story of forbidden queer love set against the backdrop of the 1970s Cold War in Estonia when two military men in the Soviet Air Force find their clandestine, illegal affair threatens their careers and their lives. Opening night takes place on Thursday, Sept. 23 at the Music Box Theatre.

Drag performer Charles Busch stars in Reeling’s closing night feature, the Midwest premiere of his tribute to movie mania, “The Sixth Reel.” The film also stars Margaret Cho, Julie Halston, Tim Daly, and Andre DeShields.

Other festival highlights include “Jump, Darling”, “Sweetheart”, “Saint-Narcisse” and “Potato Dreams of America”.   

Reeling presents nine shorts programs featuring 54 short films, organized in themes including Revolutions of the Heart: Sapphic Shorts; Getting Familiar: Gay Shorts; Seeking Connection; Keep Going: Stories of Queer Resilience; Global Trans Shorts; and Intimacies.

For in-theater screenings, tickets may be purchased online in advance at or at the theater’s box office on the day of the screening. Ticket prices are $13 for regular screenings at the Landmark Theater. Special admission programs include the Opening Night Film, “Firebird”, $18 for the film only and $40 for the film and pre-party at the Music Box Theater.  For virtual screenings, Single Streaming Tickets are available at $12 and an All-Access Streaming Pass is available for $125