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Quirky and Queer at Reeling

From gay zombies to bisexual students, this year's Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival goes beyond the mainstream.
Tuesday Nov 04, 2008.     By Alicia Eler
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

The Art of Being Straight

Tired of the same old mainstream "gay" films that are basically hetero love stories with same-sex couples? Our queer-certified guide to Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival (November 6-16), has you covered with picks that include an avant-garde art story on gay zombies and a documentary on a famous gay rock group. Curious? Read on.

Saturday, November 8

Lesbian Potpourri
Noon, Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 104 minutes
No, it's not a category on Fantasy Jeopardy. This shorts program features an intriguing mix of seven disparate films that touch on topics including Jewish-Aryan love, androgynous cowboys (or would that be cowgirls?), sadomasochism, first orgasms, dykes on bikes, librarian sex and more. "L Word" fans shouldn't miss the entries from Guinevere Turner, who wrote and directed two of the featured shorts. Oh, and here's what they are: "Berated Women" (Anya Meksin, USA), "Loving Loretta" (Andrea Gutsche, Canada), "The Thorny Rose" (Carrie Schrader, USA), "Dandelion Fall" (Lauren Wolkstein, USA), "Late" (Guinevere Turner, USA), "Quiet Please" (Guinevere Turner, USA), "True Colors, the Siren's Story" (Denise Petrizzo, USA).

"Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band"
10 p.m., Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 83 minutes
When Queercore music hit hard in the 1990s, Pansy Division landed in the spotlight. The group even opened for grunge masters/alternative superstars Green Day. Through interviews with band members, rare concert footage from gay parades and not-so-gay-friendly venues including Chicago's own Aragon Ballroom, this documentary takes a closer look at one of the most important gay rock bands ever.

Sunday, November 9

5:30 p.m., Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 74 minutes
What's really going on in queer cyberspace? Director Morgan Jon Fox creates a film that's part video–blog, part improvisational–narrative and part fake–documentary for a look at the lives of gay, straight and trans teens, and other twenty-somethings, who roam the net—but aren't "the superficial, self-absorbed MySpace generation" that some like to call them. OMG/HaHaHa pinpoints the issues of the new queer generation, speaking to a new generation that's seemingly more "connected" yet increasingly isolated.

"Otto; Or, Up With Dead People"
8 p.m. at Lakeshore Theater; 95 minutes
Halloween's over, but that doesn't mean the zombies are gone. Decidedly queer artist/writer/director Bruce LaBruce manufactures a not-so-distant future where zombie Otto "unlives." Reminiscing on his seemingly normal former life as a living person, Otto narrates stories about his boyfriend—and working in a butcher shop. Now Otto's stuck between worlds, a homeless zombie who's lost and takes a job as an actor in an "anti-establishment political zombie film" directed by an anti-capitalist with a girlfriend who's straight out of a silent film. That's a lot for Otto to take. Will the young zombie ever resolve his twisted identity crisis? Word to the wise: If you can't handle blood, gore, sex and homoeroticism, you're in the wrong theater. It's Eat Your Brains Gay Zombie Night, too, so come in your best gay zombie costume and party with a few Chicago-area drag queens. Yeah, we're serious.

Monday, November 10

Tomboys, Princesses & Drag Kings...Oh My!
7:15 p.m., Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 84 minutes
Wanna mess with gender? Yeah you do. In this series of shorts, filmmakers ask questions around the heteronormative-gendered trajectory that assumes a prince always saves a princess. Play with gender roles—then kill 'em off. Films include "Playing with Gender (Ashley Altadonna, USA), "Menopausal Gals Gone Wild" (Diane Wilkins & Donna Marie Nudd, USA), "Princess Alisanne" (Jennifer Matthews, USA), "Tomboy" (Barb Taylor, Canada), "Jersey Dyke" (Ian Adele Ray, USA), "Meme Pas Mort" (Caludine Natikin, France), "Me As He" (Christina DerHagopian, USA).

Thursday, November 13

"The Art of Being Straight"
7 p.m., Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 70 minutes
Ever heard the term "bi until graduation"? (Its acronym is B.U.G..) Okay, but what happens after college? Experimentation can happen anywhere, at any time, and that's what John and Maddie realize post-college. John, a true ladies man, moves from New York to Los Angeles and quickly rekindles his friendship with oddball lesbian Maddie. But soon John realizes he's attracted to men, and Maddie begins falling for her sweet male neighbor. Looks like sexuality isn't set after all—and maybe it's time for a change in how we view pre-made labels.

Saturday, November 15

"Just As We Are (Tal Como Somos)"
Noon, Chicago Filmmakers; 70 minutes
A tried-and-true Chicago-made documentary, "Tal Como Somos" follows the lives of six gay Latino men and one transgender woman. Together, viewers realize how their families, friends, religion and cultural experiences both bind them and shape their identities. Despite rich cultural traditions, however, it's difficult to mention Latino and gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender in the same sentence.


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