Winners Announced for Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

Reeling: The 40th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival has announced the winners of the Best Narrative and Documentary Feature Jury and Audience Awards, recognizing artistic achievements in global LGBTQ+ independent storytelling and audience-voted favorites. 

Also announced is the winner of the AARP Silver Image Award, presented by sponsor AARP Illinois, an award that champions films with multi-dimensional LGBTQ+ characters aged 50+.

The festival, held in-person and online from September 22 to October 6, showcased 51 programs, including 37 feature films, 1 web series, and 13 short film programs, with films coming from 26 different countries. Short film awards will be announced soon.

Here’s a look at the trailer for this year’s festival…

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature:
TWO EYES by Travis Fine

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature:
JIMMY IN SAIGON by Peter McDowell

AARP Silver Image Award Winner:
PROGNOSIS: NOTES ON LIVING by Debra Chasnoff and Kate Stilley Steiner

The Silver Image Award jury, comprised of volunteers and members of AARP IL, stated that it “was moved by this exceptional film focused on the beauty and the pain of caregiving for those we love as we age. The journey of Debra Chasnoff and her wife Nancy, with their family (both formal and chosen), is a universal story of love and support.

Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature:
ELEPHANT by Kamil Krawczycki

Even without the knowledge of the difficult film conditions (shot in Poland’s ‘gay free zone’), the tone, pacing, and location for this heartache of a young love story is delicious narrative content – such a complex and beautiful experience. Bonus points for bravery and sensitivity in storytelling. (And lead actor Jan Hrynkiewicz is nothing if not the Timothee Chalamet of Poland.)” – Reeling 40 Narrative Feature Jury

Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature:

The poetic, elliptical approach of the filmmakers matches the worldview and work of the performance artist/activists at the center of the movie. Amidst Jair Bolsonaro’s hellish assaults on both decency and the environment, this motley group of polygender activists and indigenous peoples demonstrate how resistance can be simultaneously delicate and unbreakable. The result is an unforgettable, lyrical documentary that excels on every level. This is a beautiful, inspiring film that fosters hope in the face of climate change.” – Reeling 40 Documentary Feature Jury

Nick Davis
Nick Davis is a professor of English, film, and queer theory at Northwestern University, where he is also Director of the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program. He has been publishing film criticism and festival journalism since 1998, including at Film Comment Magazine, where he was a Contributing Editor.

Jennifer Reeder
Jennifer Reeder, a Chicago-based filmmaker, was recently named by South Korean film director Bong Joon Ho as one to watch in the 2020s. Her films have shown at festivals and museums around the world, including Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, and The Whitney Biennial.

Bruce Vilanch
Bruce Vilanch is a comedy writer, songwriter, and actor who starred in the national road company of Hairspray. He is a six-time Emmy Award-winner. Vilanch is best known to the public for his four-year stint on Hollywood Squares, as a celebrity participant; behind the scenes he was head writer for the show. He also wrote for the Oscar Awards ceremony between 1989 and 2014.

Ronit Bezalel
Starting her career at the National Film Board of Canada and now based in Chicago, Ronit Bezalel has been creating social issues documentaries for over 25 years.

Rob Christopher
Rob Christopher wrote, directed, and starred in the acclaimed narrative feature Pause of the Clock in 2015. His documentary Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago screened internationally at numerous film festivals and theaters in 2021. It was awarded “Best Illinois Feature” at the 2021 Beloit International Film Festival. He is the author of “Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie” and has written for the Chicago Reader and American Libraries. His writing frequently appears in Cine-File Chicago.

Hank Sartin
Hank Sartin’s film reviews have appeared in the Windy City Times, the Chicago Free Press, the Chicago Reader, and Time Out Chicago, where he was the film section editor and later a senior editor. He has a PhD in film studies and has taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, Wayne State University, and Columbia College. He is the Director of Communications at All Chicago Making Homelessness History.

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