Block Cinema shows films from Reeling Festival

Cathaleen Qiao Chen

Chicago’s Reeling, a lesbian and gay international film festival, visited Northwestern’s campus Friday night when the Block Cinema screened two films, “Pariah” and “A Few Days of Respite.”

More than 100 people attended the event, including Evanston natives and LGBT supporters from the greater Chicago area.

The Reeling Film Festival, organized by Chicago Filmmakers, celebrated its 30th anniversary by presenting 65 screenings in six different Chicago area theaters, including the Block Cinema and other suburban venues.

“We are always trying to find and reach new audiences,” said Patrick Friel, sponsorship, print traffic and hospitality coordinator of Chicago Filmmakers. “The two screenings at the Block Cinema will hopefully reach Evanston and Wilmette residents as well as Northwestern students.”

Mimi Brody, film curator and director of Block, said she welcomed the Reeling Film Festival when they approached her prior to the event. Brody contacted Rainbow Alliance to encourage student attendance and promote the event.

“I think the screenings are appealing on many levels,” Brody said. “‘Pariah,’ in particular, reaches out to all LGBT youths, especially young African-American lesbians.”

The Sundance Film Festival hit documents the life of Alike, a young black lesbian in New York City. Through her failed romance with a sexually curious girl and her struggles with a dysfunctional family, Alike gains her self-emancipation in creative writing.

“‘Pariah’ is an amazing, well-directed film,” Friel said. “We have a wide variety of shows, including the fluffy, romantic type and the more serious, dramatic ones. Pariah is definitely more dramatic, exhibiting some serious intent.”

The film provoked an emotional reaction from its audience, many of whom said they experienced a similar struggle in dealing with their own sexuality.

Nikki Floyd, an audience member from Chicago, found out about the event through the Chicago Reader. Floyd said although Alike’s coming out experience did not exactly mirror her own, the film resonated with her.

“This was my first Reeling screening,” Floyd said. “I’m glad it was because the movie was a very familiar story to me. It was a story that I’ve always known but did not personally experience.”

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