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Reeling 29: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Fest's Lesbian Shorts Reviews: 'Goodbye My Lover'

Reeling 29: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Fest's Lesbian Shorts Reviews: 'Goodbye My Lover'

I recently attended two short programs at Reeling 29: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival. Each program contained five brief yet touching pieces. The short films in Goodbye My Lover were The Best is Yet to Come, Time Spent, Bye Bi Love, Tracks and Don't Ask, I Won't Tell. 

Last week, I was lucky enough to catch some of Reeling 29: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival, and I wasn’t disappointed. The 10-day festival ended on the 13th and offered a wide variety films from many different countries. Although I wish I could have seen more of the festival, what I did catch was entertaining, diverse, and memorable. While many feature length films were presented, my first Reeling experience was two short programs: Her Beautiful Disaster and Goodbye My Lover, each containing five brief yet touching pieces. So start keeping tabs on the Gay and Lesbian section of your Netflix queue or watching for festivals in you area, and look for these titles- they’re worth the wait.

Goodbye My Lover

The Best is Yet to Come

Eunice Wu’s The Best Is Yet To Come was one of the more topical pieces, building around the relationship of two young woman after the Proposition 8 ruling. Sam (Kate Jurkiewicz) is out, proud, and crushed that she can’t legally marry her girlfriend Alice (Christine Sung). Alice is too busy worrying about the outcome coming out to her traditional Chinese family to think about marriage. Jurkiewicz and Sung are emotionally fitting as Sam and Alice, but the short suffers from cliched dialogue that often lacks originality. However, it was refreshing to see a take on Chinese views of homosexuality, as the festival didn’t offer much on Asian culture. 

Time Spent

Puppet’s Time Spent tells the story of George (Heather Coutts), a woman struggling with her best friend Bill’s (Chance Harlem Jr.) suicide attempts, which he claims are because George can never return his love romantically. The occurrences are muddled and hard to follow, and it’s too difficult to distinguish “fantasy” scenes from reality. Coutts and Harlem Jr. work well together as Bill and George, and it is their dedication to the story that makes the piece work. The originality of the editing made the film entertaining to watch, and the overall message certainly came across. However, Time Spent simply spends too much time trying to be “deep” rather than focusing on the raw relationship that gives it meaning.

Watch the trailer on IMDB.

Bye Bi Love

Giovanna Chesler’s Bye Bi Love was one of the more fleshed out and solid shorts of the two programs. It follows Vera (Allison Findlater-Galinsky), a woman who must decide whether or not to attend the heterosexual wedding of her ex-girlfriend, which is being officiated by the invitee’s ex-boyfriend. Flashbacks to Vera’s past relationships lead to an ultimate decision, as well as a nice surprise for the audience. Bye Bi Love gets kudos for representing all parties in a fair and equal way, and Findlater-Galinsky carries the film near-flawlessly as the conflicted Vera.

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Deanna Williams’ Tracks is a personal favorite of mine. Although it definitely had a lower budget and amateur film style, the story of two young African-American girls who bond over the homophobia in their families and strike up a friendship is deeply touching and realistic. Erica Burns and Tasha Villard are so natural that the film almost has a documentary feel, and the less professional shooting quality is lost in the heart of it all. Tracks has a bitter-sweet, almost disturbing ending that is hard to accept, and it leaves the audience with the sad realization that the unfortunate occurrences portrayed happen every day, all over the world. 

Don’t Ask, I Won’t Tell

April Wilson originally made Don’t Ask, I Won’t Tell as a school project in which the goal was to make a film that didn’t require dialogue. The result is a very brief film that relies successfully on the emotional connection of two women spending their last few moments together before one is sent back to the army. Meghan Hays and Lizbeth Salva are well matched as the two lovers, and Don’t Ask realistically captures the pent up feelings of love and sadness that accompany the departure of a loved one.

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