Skip to main content

REELING: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival


Posted October 5th, 2015 by sarah in Press Releases

Media Contact:
Rob Walton, Publicist | The Silverman Group
(312) 932-9950 | | @ReelingFilmFest

Best Narrative Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature Film, Best Actress, Actor and Special Jury Prizes among the 2015 Awards

(October 5, 2015 – Chicago, IL) Sold out screenings, critically acclaimed movies from around the globe, a U.S. premiere here, a hotly anticipated Oscar contender there, and Chicago premieres of nearly 40 feature films added up to one of the most memorable years for Reeling, the second-oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution for more than 30 years.

With Reeling concluded, the festival’s juries and audiences have weighed in with their choices. The feature winners (narrative and documentary) include a hilarious dude comedy, a bittersweet and emotionally groundbreaking trans dramedy, a bird’s eye view of little seen cultures in the Middle East and the tiny African island of Cape Verde, as well as emotionally riveting performances.


Director Andrew Nackman’s uproarious debut feature, FOURTH MAN OUT, which was Reeling’s Opening Night selection, has been awarded Best Narrative Feature Film by the Reeling jury who chose the film “for making us laugh while also impressing us with its dramatic shaping and for giving real human dimension to its openly comic and wonderfully entertaining scenarios.” The film is about Adam (Evan Todd), a sweet-spirited car mechanic in a small, working class town, who comes out of the closet to his unsuspecting, blue-collar best friends who are straight.

“For bringing an innovative spirit to fruition through stellar performances in a wide range of roles, and through visual choices that served the story to a T,” the Reeling narrative jury awarded a Special Jury Prize to writer-director Maureen Bradley’s TWO 4 ONE, a Canadian dramedy about a trans man who accidentally becomes pregnant.

Best Actress went to ELLEN PAGE in director Peter Sollett’s FREEHELD. Page, who plays the partner of Julianne Moore in the film, was instrumental in getting the film made. The jury raved about Page’s performance which, “So subtly and movingly signaled all the thoughts and feelings of a self effacing character. She earns this award on the strength of her performance alone, but the decisive, tireless role she played in getting this important movie made is another reason to celebrate her.”

Best Actor was awarded to the male ensemble in writer-director Joseph Graham’s sexually
adventurous BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING, including Zack Ryan, Brian Sheppard and Colman Domingo in starring roles, as well as the equally strong actors supporting them through this evocative and richly photographed story of desire among men.

The Reeling narrative feature jury included Nick Davis, Michael Kutza and Sharon Zurek (bios below).


For its “Remarkable storytelling, gorgeous cinematography and intimate access into a devoted and inspiring community, the Best Documentary Feature Film was awarded to TCHINDAS, a glittery, oh-so-fabulous examination of a little-seen culture reminiscent of Paris Is Burning. Director Marc Serena and Pablo Garcia Perez de Lara’s cinema vérité approach looks at the close-knit world of a renowned transgender woman and her colorful cohorts on the tiny island of Cape Verde, Africa as they and their neighbors prepare for their annual Carnival festivities.

A SINNER IN MECCA, Parvez Sharma’s controversial, eye-opening follow-up to A Jihad for Love, was awarded with the Documentary Activism Award for its “stunning and perilous first-hand account of a religious and human rights journey that investigates the core meaning of freedom and acceptance.”

The Reeling documentary jury included Ronit Bezalel, Ky Dickens, Todd Lillethun and Beckie Stocchetti (bio below).


Reeling audiences weighed in on their favorite films by voting on audience ballots handed out at the screenings. The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature goes to IN THE TURN, director Erica Tremblay’s compelling portrait of an inclusive queer roller derby collective, and the impact that its diverse members have on the community at large, and, in particular, one ten-year-old transgender girl who was banned from team sports at her elementary school due to her gender identity. The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was awarded to FREEHELD, the hotly anticipated true story of a New Jersey police detective who fights to leave her pension to her life partner when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The forthcoming film was hugely popular with the Reeling audience who packed a sold-out screening attended by the movie’s screenwriter Ron Nyswaner.

Reeling showed more than 60 shorts from 14 different countries, and the Reeling shorts jury selected the best of the best from three different major categories. The Jury Award for Best Narrative Short (Golden Reel) goes to SHOWBOY, director Samuel Leighton-Dore’s story of a young football player who finds himself struggling to support his depressed, unemployed father while fighting to keep his own secrets: he’s not only gay, but loves performing drag. Also recognized were director Devon Kirkpatrick’s MA/DDY, which received the Silver Reel, and Sonali Gulati’s BIG TIME – MY DOODLED DIARY, which received the Bronze Reel in the Narrative Shorts category.

The Jury Award for Best Documentary Short (Golden Reel) was awarded to TOMGIRL, director Jeremy Asher Lynch’s captivating inside peek into the life of seven-year-old gender non-conforming kid, Jake, whose infectiously supportive family and friends encourage him to live authentically and face life head on. The jury also recognized filmmaker Allison Khoury’s 11 LIFE LESSONS FROM AN AWESOME OLD DYKE with the Silver Reel, and Chasson Gracie’s GONNA SIP THAT SIP, HIT THAT DIP: THE EMERGING QUEER HIP HOP MOVEMENT with the Bronze Reel in the Documentary Shorts category.

The Jury Award for Best Animated/Experimental Short (Golden Reel) was awarded to local filmmaker Allen Martsch’s BITTERSWEET, a charmingly animated tale of an anxious high schooler scrambling to retrieve a love note accidentally sent to the boy he has a crush on. In the Animated/Experimental Shorts category, director Lorelei Pei’s animated film HAPPY & GAY was awarded the Silver Reel, with filmmaker Bunnyz’s experimental, visual journey RITES receiving the Bronze Reel.

The Reeling shorts jury consisted of Sam Bailey, Lauren Carter, John Coleman, Lisa Cordileone, Alexandra Ensign, Julie Keck, Angelique Smith and Zachary Wideman-Togami.


NICK DAVIS is Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University, where he has been on faculty since 2006. He is the author of “The Desiring Image,” a book focusing on new queer cinema.
MICHAEL KUTZA is an award winning filmmaker, graphic designer and the Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival, which he founded in 1964.
SHARON ZUREK is a film producer and editor (including the lesbian-themed indie feature Hannah Free) and has worked on several social issue documentaries through her company Black Cat Productions. She is also a Senior Lecturer at Columbia College, co-founder of the Dyke Delicious series at Chicago Filmmakers, the presenting organization of Reeling, of which she is also Board President.

RONIT BEZALEL has been creating social issue documentaries for over 25 years, beginning her career at the National Film Board of Canada with her film When Shirley Florence. Her newest film, 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green recently premiered at the Black Harvest Film Festival.
KY DICKENS is the award winning documentary filmmaker of 2009’s Fish Out of Water (which played at Reeling as its Documentary Centerpiece) and 2013’s Sole Survivor. She is currently at work on her next film, scheduled for release in 2017, Zero Weeks.

TODD LILLETHUN is the documentary director of 2009’s Night Bus and the director of the 2014
narrative short film Safe Word. He has been a film programmer, production assistant and production coordinator, and writes a column on documentary production in the Midwest for Screen magazine.
BECKIE STOCCHETTI has worked as a film curator, programmer, program director, and festival operations manager, in addition to other film related positions at various film organizations. She is currently the Director of Engagement and Programs at the renowned documentary production company, Kartemquin Films.

* Public Information
For more information on the award winning films, the public can call 773-293-1447, consult the
festival website at, or follow @reelingfilmfest on twitter for the latest
Reeling news.

# # #