After 33 years, Reeling Film Festival is still going strong and nothing proves that more than this year’s line-up. Aside from the diverse films from all around the world, Reeling will also be showing two highly anticipated, major studio releases: Freeheld and Stonewall. This is an added treat, but the real spirit of the festival lies in its ability to bring multifaceted, diverse stories from around the world. Through them, we get to glimpse into different cultural adversity and unique points of view in which the current voice in mainstream society is akin to a whisper. These are the films I’m most excited for, and with almost 40 feature films and more than 60 shorts, it will be a tough task to see them all. I like to think of it more as a labor of love. So far, I’ve seen nearly half of the feature-length films and already have a few absolute favorites that I think you should not miss.
FOURTH MAN OUT (September 17th, 7:30PM at the Music Box Theater)
There are films chosen specifically to open and close film festivals. They tend to be ice breaker films meant to set the mood or to begin something with lightly. In this respect, you can’t count this film out. This bromantic comedy starts off when Adam (Evan Todd) comes out to his longtime friends and that changes their entire group dynamic. Not only does the film highlight the inherent homosexuality in bro culture, but it shows the hypocrisy in their beliefs. One day, they are fine calling each other gay, but suddenly, when one of their friends comes out as truly gay, their whole psuedo-homosexual dynamic becomes a very awkward problem. I know, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but the film’s charm and odd marriage of crass and class make it a great, light-humored starting point for the festival. At least until we get to the truly depressing stuff.
LIZ IN SEPTEMBER (September 19th, 7:00 PM at the Landmark Theater)
You know that depressing stuff I mentioned earlier? Well, we’ve arrived on it. We join Liz (Patricia Velasquez) in the midst of an existential crossroads. The film deals with life and death, and the irony of it all. Coming to terms with your own mortality as soon as you have found a new reason to live for. The stunning natural beauty of the resort beach front where this film takes place is meant to reflect the beauty of their relationships, whether it’s friendship or something more intimate. It is also used as a running metaphor for life and death. So if the exploration of the terrain isn’t enough to keep you enthralled, then the story about sexual exploration definitely will.
GUIDANCE (September 19th, 9:15 PM at the Landmark Theater)
This roller coaster of emotion I’m taking you on will only get more exciting from here. As the tabloids like to remind us, there is a very high descent-into-madness rate for childhood film or television stars, and David Gold (Pat Mills) is no exception. Desperation, combined with alcoholism, a brush with mortality, and a severe case of arrested development, will make you do almost anything. That includes taking the identity of another person in order to get a position as a guidance counselor in the local high school. The multiple Ghostbusters references aside, this film as wildly entertaining as it is unapologetically funny. The “bad teacher” schtick has been done to death before, but Mills manages to breathe an air of optimism into the typically misanthropic genre.
SHE’S THE BEST THING IN IT (September 21st, 9:30 PM at the Landmark Theater)
Now we take a stroll down memory lane with the immensely talented, Tony-winning actress Mary Louise Wilson. This documentary focuses on her career, having to fight for everything and just how much her family influenced her life. Wilson is part of a dying breed of character actors in an industry that would rather hire people to essentially play themselves as a character than to hire someone who could bring the character to life. She gets hired to teach a college acting course in her hometown in Louisiana, where the students think her methods are verging on crazy. Then again, sanity is one of those things you don’t really need to hold on to, right? The raw, emotional feel of the documentary let’s you laugh with (and sometimes at) Wilson, but also feel her struggle and the things she had to do to survive in a society where fame doesn’t always equal financial success.
DEATH IN BUENOS AIRES (September 24th, 9:30 PM at the Landmark Theater)
This was the perfect film to close out the festival with. Inside of its 80’s detective thriller-exterior lies a sensual beast waiting to point. The murder of a prominent person in the city leads Inspector Chavez (Demian Bichir) down a rabbit hole-like gay underground where no one is what they seem. There is an undeniable film noir style that is being emulated successfully from the outfits and cars all the way up to hair styles. The color palette alternates from vibrant sexually charged moments to dimly lit, grayscaled scenes of mystery. There is even a musical number or two waiting for you, and all of them is done in magnificent 80’s style.
There is something for everyone at the Reeling Film Festival. If you’re more of a fan of the classics, there will be special anniversary showings of Brokeback Mountain and I Am Love for your rewatching pleasure. There is something for everyone at the festival, so take a look at Reeling Film Festival’s full schedule and get your tickets before they sell out!