Mission and History
Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival is the second longest-running film festival of its kind, and prides itself on showcasing the best LGBTQ+ films and videos each year. From award-winning international feature films to social documentaries to experimental shorts, Reeling has always presented a range of genres that demonstrate the rich diversity of work being produced. Not only has Reeling become one of the most important cultural events for Chicagoans, it also attracts LGBTQ+ people from throughout the Midwest who consider the festival to be the highlight of their cinematic year.
The mission of Reeling is to recognize the important artistic contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender filmmakers have made to our culture; to educate the general population and sensitize them to lesbian, gay and transgender issues; to investigate the history of LGBTQ+ film, including the stereotyping that has been a major part of this history; and to counteract this stereotyping with valid, meaningful and diverse portrayals of those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The festival provides a unique opportunity for the celebration of these identities for a community too often misrepresented or ignored in mainstream film and television.
The first Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival took place in April 1981 in Chicago Filmmakers’ 90-seat folding-chair screening room on West Hubbard Street. The festival sold out nearly every screening, leaving audiences demanding more. The enthusiasm for the festival led to a commitment on the part of Chicago Filmmakers to continue the festival as an annual event, and it has been going strong ever since.