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Reeling 

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Reeling: The 24th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival continues Friday through Sunday, November 11 through 13, at Landmark's Century Centre and the Columbia College Ludington Building, 1104 S. Wabash. Tickets are $10, $8 for members of Chicago Filmmakers.

FRIDAY 11

Both

Video maker Lisset Barcellos earns points for originality with this provocative drama about a bisexual stuntwoman in San Francisco (Jackie Parker) who returns to her Peruvian roots after seeing pictures of her long-lost brother in a photo album sent by an elderly aunt. Parker is magnetic as a woman whose professional confidence helps mask her sexual frustration. But she can't do anything with the weakly scripted confrontations between the stuntwoman and her mother (Yvonne Frassinet), who has kept the brother's whereabouts secret. In English and subtitled Spanish. 86 min. (AG) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 5:30)

R Original Pride: The Satyrs Motorcycle Club

A fascinating history of the Satyrs, the preeminent gay motorcycle club in Los Angeles. Video maker Scott Bloom establishes the social context for the groups, which sprang up after World War II as returning servicemen tried to re-create the male bonding of the military (a notion taken to its extreme by the gay clubs). Most of the veteran members interviewed come off as congenial and articulate, and rare archival footage shows bikers in and around Los Angeles from the 50s through the 70s. 59 min. (JK) Also screening is Antonia Kao's 23-minute video Pup, about Christian leather fetishists. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 5:30)

A Love to Hide

Excellent production values distinguish this French TV movie about a discreetly gay man (Jeremie Renier) living in occupied Paris. By

day he runs the family laundry business; by night he loves a handsome agent of the resistance (Bruno Todeschini). Both their lives are threatened by a trio of characters fixated on the hero: a closeted Nazi officer, a fugitive Jewish woman, and the hero's jealous black sheep of a brother. With its convoluted relationships and intrusive musical score, this plays like a soap opera more than a Holocaust drama. Directed by Christian Faure. In French with subtitles. 102 min. (AG) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 7:00)

Floored by Love

Set in Vancouver, this bland 40-minute comedy drama by Desiree Lim follows two parallel story lines that intersect awkwardly near the end. In the first, a lesbian couple contemplates tying the knot after British Columbia ratifies same-sex marriages, though one of them still has to come out of the closet with her tradition-minded Malaysian parents; in the second, a cheesy parody of knee-jerk liberalism, the 14-year-old hero declares his homosexuality to his earnest, politically correct family. Also on the program is Lim's superior short Some Real Fangs (34 min.), about a lesbian vampire trying to cop the blood of her true love in time for a lunar eclipse that occurs every 120 years. (JK) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 7:15)

Adam & Steve

Craig Chester's comedy looks at a pair of star-crossed lovers who meet again 15 years after a disastrous one-night stand. With Parker Posey and Chris Kattan. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 9:00)

Women in Love

Filmmaker Karen Everett reflects on her 15-year struggle to find true love in San Francisco's lesbian community, and though she celebrates unconventional romantic arrangements, her and her friends' personal history makes a better case for monogamy. This video memoir (59 min.) doesn't amount to much more than a self-absorbed intellectual evaluating her commitment problems, but Everett's friends and their ever-shifting relationships are lively and interesting enough to keep this from collapsing into narcissism. Two short videos complete the program: Peter A. Pizzi's awful Love Is Blind (10 min.) and Barbara Green and Michelle Boyaner's Tina Paulina: Living on Hope Street (9 min.), an affectionate portrait of a homeless lesbian. (Reece Pendleton) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 9:00)

SATURDAY 12

Eighteen

I can't imagine what prompted Ian McKellen and Alan Cumming to lend their talents to this lurid, overwrought Canadian feature (2004) by writer-director Richard Bell. Five disparate story lines collide into one mangled mess as a young man (Paul Anthony), traumatized by the death of his gay brother, channels his rage into drinking, panhandling, knocking up a social worker, stealing from a compassionate gay hustler, and teasing the sexually ambiguous priest (Cumming) who tries to help him back on his feet. Flashbacks of the hero's grandfather fighting in World War II play like fragments of a different movie, and when past and present feverishly meet, it's a howler. 104 min. (AG) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., noon)

R 100% Human

This unique musical documentary from Norway charts several years in the life of a young transgender man both before and after his sexual reassignment surgery. In 2001 directors Trond Winterkjaer and Jon Dalchow gave their subject a camera to keep a video journal, which results in a touchingly frank and occasionally bittersweet self-portrait. Just 22 at the time of the surgery, Morten/Monica comes across as intelligent and self-aware, qualities the film suggests are prerequisites for the radical procedure. Winning musical numbers blend seamlessly with the story; in one of them Morten/Monica is spotlighted on the operating table while doctors in scrubs prance through a mist of dry ice. In Norwegian with subtitles. 73 min. (JK) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., noon)

Woman to Woman Shorts

Short videos by and about lesbians. 84 min. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 1:30)

Where the Boys Are Shorts

A program of 11 short videos. 96 min. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 2:00)

R Little Man

Lesbian partners Nicole Conn and Gwen Baba were so delighted by their adoption of a lively toddler that they decided to have another child by a surrogate mother, a process Conn sets out to document in this video. But the chronicle becomes unexpectedly wrenching when the surrogate's undisclosed medical ailments force doctors to deliver the child almost three and a half months premature. Weighing in at one pound, young Nicholas begins a jaw-dropping medical odyssey that Conn captures with unflinching frankness, including its emotional toll on the family. This is undeniably inspiring, but it also refuses to shy away from the harsh realities and moral quandaries surrounding the birth. 112 min. (Reece Pendleton) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 3:15)

R Hard Pill

Writer-director John Baumgartner blends sci-fi and social commentary in this thought-provoking drama about a new pharmaceutical that "cures" homosexuals. Jonathan Slavin gives a memorable performance as a gay man, frustrated by his miserable track record with lovers, who agrees to participate in clinical trials; his decision alienates a gay friend who considers the treatment fascist but tantalizes a female coworker who's long had a crush on him. The story is occasionally contrived but works out better than one might expect. 95 min. (JK) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 4:00)

Same Sex, Windy City Shorts

Short videos by locals Jillian Pena, Eau Contraire, David Heckler, Sam Patterson, and Ezra Austin. 81 min. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 5:30)

Butterfly

From Hong Kong comes this gauzy lesbian romance (2004) about a teacher, wife, and mother (Josie Ho) whose comfortable middle-class existence is threatened by her attraction to a pretty musician (Tian Yuan). Director Yan Yan Mak slows the languid pace even more with endless flashbacks to the teacher's teenage years, when she had an affair with a student activist (Joman Chiang). Scenes involving Tiananmen Square suggest a parallel between humans rights and the protagonist's sexual identity, but that angle is barely explored; like every other element of the film, politics and psychology are merely cosmetic. In English and subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin. 124 min. (AG) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 6:00)

Life After Sex Shorts

A program of four short videos. 93 min. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 7:15)

R The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green

As a little boy, Ethan Green responds to a reading of "Cinderella" with the crack "She coulda done better." But by age 26 he's looking for love himself and can't keep it when he finds it. Based on a comic strip by Eric Orner (who provides an animation sequence), this amusing low-budget video chronicles Ethan's romantic misadventures while satirizing same-sex marriage, gay Republicans, online dating, lesbian stereotypes, and gay culture's obsession with youth. Directed by George Bamber from a witty screenplay by David Vernon, this veers between screwball farce and feel-good sitcom, with a cast that includes deadpan Daniel Letterle (Camp) as Ethan; Meredith Baxter as his mom (a gay-wedding planner); and Richard Riehle and Joel Brooks as his outrageously garbed "aunties," the Hat Sisters. 88 min. (Albert Williams) Screening as part of the festival's closing-night party; tickets are $25, $22 for members of Chicago Filmmakers. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 8:30)

Show Me

The first hour of this 2004 Canadian thriller is well-crafted psychodrama: an upwardly mobile lesbian (Michelle Nolden), driving to a remote woodland getaway for a tryst with her partner, picks up a couple of hitchhikers (Katharine Isabelle, Kett Turton) who wind up commandeering the car at gunpoint. Once the action moves to the woman's lakeside cabin, the tension rises but the credibility sinks, as contrived sexual situations lead the story to a melodramatic finish. Cassandra Nicolaou directed. R, 97 min. (AG) (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 9:15)

SUNDAY 13

Imagine Me and You

This British romantic comedy--yet another in the vein of Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral--strains so hard to be upbeat you can almost hear gears shifting. Dramatically challenged on her best day, Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) is saddled here with a London accent, playing a bride who falls for her comely floral designer (Lena Headley). Various English eccentrics visit the florist's shop as the two women struggle with their mutual attraction and their lovelorn men try to figure out what's wrong. The script, by director Ol Parker, is way too contrived, but this is helped over the rough spots by veteran actors Anthony Head and Celia Imrie as the bride's parents. 93 min. (AG) (Landmark's Century Centre, 7:00)

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Spirits to Enforce Berry Memorial United Methodist Church
November 08
Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20

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