Reeling Film Festival to go on year-long hiatus

Reeling logo. Photo: reelingfilmfestival.org

Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival will go on hiatus this year and return for its 31st year in 2013, according to Chicago Filmmakers Executive Director Brenda Webb.

“Time off from producing Reeling this year will afford the organization the opportunity to strategically plan for Reeling’s future,” read a press release from the organization later Thursday. “CF will undertake such considerations as: a change in the time of year that the festival takes place; how the festival might expand or evolve to better address the changing needs of LGBT filmmakers; and what impact the conversion to digital cinema technology will have on our exhibition options.”

Maintaining this type of planning and strategy was difficult for the organization while organizing and producing the festival each year, according to the release.

As the nation’s second-oldest LGBT film festival, Reeling attracts thousands of viewers and filmmakers to various cinema venues across the city, showcasing up-and-coming and well-established LGBT films and their creators. Last year’s festival marked its 30th anniversary and presented over 60 programs across 10 days.

The organization also noted that it will be looking for a new festival director to replace Webb so that she can devote more time to her position as Executive Director of Chicago Filmmakers.

“Chicago Filmmakers’ board will be focusing its attention on fundraising over the next year in order to support this new staff position, as well as to develop the resources necessary to sustain and grow the festival in the coming years,” read the release.

Alex Bohs, a local LGBT filmmaker and student at Columbia College Chicago has gone to Reeling for the last two years and had his short film HALF featured in the festival last year.

To me, Reeling is the mother of all LGBT festivals,” Bohs said. “I say this because growing up only a few hours out of Chicago, I knew what Reeling was. As an LGBT filmmaker, getting into Reeling was a milestone I hope to be able to replicate down the road.”

Bohs said that he wishes more people would attend Reeling and that it could be better advertised and marketing like the larger Chicago International Film Festival.

“Given that this will be my last chance to attend Reeling as a Chicagoan — I will be moving to Los Angeles after graduating Columbia College next year — this news breaks my heart,” he said. “I hope the people at Reeling realize how much they mean to many of us filmmakers in the LGBT community. I wouldn’t want my films to be seen by any other audience first.”

Chicago Phoenix will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.