Reeling in the years — all 36 of them
The idea, Chicago Filmmakers executive director Brenda Webb tells me, came from something she read in a film journal sometime in 1980, the year of Ronald Reagan’s election and two years before a global health crisis acquired the name .
This was in the time of the “pre-AIDS euphoria,” she says, when America hosted a total of two official gay/lesbian film festivals. One took root in New York, and is no longer running. The other one, Frameline in San Francisco, was founded in 1977.
The article Webb read posed the question: Is there such a thing as a “gay sensibility” in film?
She set out to answer that one with a festival of her own. Now in its 36th year, the Chicago LGBTQ cinematic celebration known as Reeling opens Friday with a crisp, enjoyable diversion filmed here, director Sonia Sebastian’s wry, crisply paced romantic comedy “Freelancers Anonymous” starring co-screenwriter Lisa Cordileone as a woman suddenly flung into the open job market on the cusp of her wedding. The savvy ensemble includes Mouzam Makkar, Megan Cavanaugh, Alexandra Billings and Jennifer Bartels.
That’s one sort of movie, breezy and adroit. This year’s Reeling covers many other sorts, in a formidable array of genres and styles. So the answer’s no: There is no one gay sensibility, to state the obvious, just as there’s no one straight aesthetic or personality. There are multitudes.