Smile Politely

The 4th Annual Reel It UP Film Festival begins tonight

June is here, and the UP Center’s annual LGBTQA Film Festival has become a beloved tradition. It’s time again to celebrate Pride. But do any of us even feel like celebrating? Yes, last week was horribly disappointing. It was insulting, infuriating, borderline cruel. And it was also par for the course. But we’re going to win, everybody. It’s going to be excruciatingly slow and extremely difficult to pull our religious, conservative, mostly-downstate, fellow Illinoisans into the Promised Land. But we’ll have marriage equality in Illinois. I have no doubt we will.

And until then? We have to keep coming out; we have to keep writing, petitioning, talking, and voting. And we’ll keep being fabulous. And in our down time, we’ll celebrate our community, our loved ones, and ourselves. Especially this month. And I can’t think of a better way to do that than supporting Reel It UP, now in its fourth year.

Heath Peterson, the festival’s organizer, grew up in Danville, and only recently returned to Champaign-Urbana this past March, after living in San Francisco for twelve years. This is Heath’s first time organizing the film festival, which he took over after intern Tencia Arizpe graduated: “I’m super excited, but really nervous. Tencia probably chose 95% of the films. We gave her feedback, but she did the legwork in getting the films.”

As always, the festival has a diverse cross section of the queer community: transgender, gay, lesbian, youth, older activists, and both American and foreign films. When I saw the lineup, however, I didn’t see any films with bisexual people, and asked Heath about it. He answered that the festival doesn’t have “a really good film that specifically deals with bisexuality” this year:

We kind of focused more on gender identity this year. From past experience and from what people have said they wanted in the past, we felt that this is something they’re looking for. So we promoted this a little more this year. And, then of course, there are great movies this year on this topic.

Smile Politely: And that’s kind of the opposite with regard to films with bi characters, as far as I can tell. There are some fantastic books being published right now with bi characters, but not so much in the films.

Peterson: We’ll look hard for bi films for the 5th Annual Reel It UP.

There may not be any movies this year that highlight bisexuality, but I’m not complaining. The quality of the films at Reel It UP never disappoints. I reminded Heath that last year’s festival showed Patrick Wang’s In the Family, almost a year before Ebertfest brought it to C-U, and he lauded Tencia Arizpe’s “phenomenal footwork,” saying that they’d not have acquired “such great, great films without her tenacity and drive.”

[brief digression]

SP: What’s your favorite movie at the festival this year?

Peterson: I have not seen it yet, but I’m really interested in seeing Codebreaker. I’m super excited about it.

SP: Mine is Passionate Politics.

Peterson: That’ll be really great as well. I’m looking forward to Ready? OK! I think it’s going to be really cute.

SP: I’ve seen that film, and it’s a great movie. The kid [Lurie Poston] who stars in it is amazing. And Michael Emerson! You can’t go wrong with him.

As they did last year, Minneci’s Ristorante is donating a free glass of house wine with a purchase of an entrée for all who bring in their single movie pass. Additionally, Peterson said that a festival pass gets you even more: “If you buy the month pass, you have a choice of appetizer, cocktail, or dessert, and you can have that every Tuesday in June.” It’s kind of amazing because if you take advantage of Minneci’s generous specials — especially the ones that come with the festival pass — the ticket price almost pays for itself.

But what do I mean by “month pass”? This year, the UP Center made one major change in the festival: Instead of showing multiple movies for just one day, the festival will show two films at the Art Theater Co-op every Tuesday evening during the entire month of June:

Previous years have been just a one-day festival. It was a day of movies, which was great. We thought this year we would change it up. It’s an opportunity to play more movies. Last year, we showed six movies. This year we have eight. And it will help us reach a broader audience. In the past, those who happened to be out of town missed the entire festival. Now they’ll have the opportunity to see other movies showing on other nights.

So come out to the Art on a Tuesday this month (or every Tuesday) and enjoy some of the best in queer cinema with some of our best C-U citizens:

We host the event to be with our family and friends and each other. This event isn’t really something that makes money for the UP Center; it’s not a fundraiser. It’s more for the sense of community and family, and just being with friends and celebrating Pride Month.

Dates, times, and brief descriptions and trailers of all the films showing at the festival are below. Reviews of many of the films will be published throughout the month. Details are at the end of the article.


Week 1: Tuesday June 4

7:30 p.m. show

Codebreaker (Original title: Britain’s Greatest Code Breaker)

Documentary. Alan Turing was a visionary — a genius British mathematician, logician, and computer scientist. But Turing lived in England in the 1950s, when being gay was still illegal. When his sexual orientation was discovered, criminal charges were brought against him. He was convicted of “indecency,” fired from his job, and forced to decide between hormonal treatment that would render him impotent or prison. Turing chose the former and began both hormonal and psychiatric therapy. This film is based on these real events, and includes interviews with some of today’s leading scientists, contemporaries of Turing, and the actual conversations between him and his therapist, Dr. Franz Greenbaum. Look for Mark Laughlin’s review of this film later today.

Best line from the trailer: Steve Wozniak: “There’s often a seed that everything came from, and Alan Turing basically came up with everything that computers do today.”

9:30 p.m. show


Drama. Russell and Glen meet at a gay club, and enjoy what they believe will be just another one-night stand. Unfortunately, and annoyingly, they like each other far too much to simply enjoy a delicious brunch the next morning and get on with their lives. How do you handle it when the last thing you want to do is fall in love, but you can’t help yourselves? Check out Mathew Green’s review of this film, which will be published today at 1:00.

Best line from the trailer: “You know what it’s like when you first sleep with someone you don’t know. You like the blank canvas, and it gives you an opportunity to project onto that canvas who you want to be.”

Week 2: Tuesday, June 11

7:30 p.m. show

Gender Identity Shorts: No Dumb Questions, I’m Just Anneke, The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children

Three Shorts/Documentaries. Three supporters of the UP Center will host a talk back panel discussion after these films.

No Dumb Questions: Transgender 101. Three sisters, ages 6, 9, and 11, struggle to understand why and how their Uncle Bill is becoming a woman. Look for Katie Baldwin’s review of this film next week.

Best line from the trailer: “How long will it take to get those hairs out of your face?”

— — —

I’m Just Anneke. Anneke is twelve years old and going through puberty. But despite this, Anneke is determined to maintain a gender fluid identity and eschew the binary gender paradigm.

Best line from the trailer: “I don’t really get parents who don’t accept their kids.”

— — —

The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children. This documentary interviews parents and siblings of gender nonconforming family members, and shows how the “power of love and acceptance” can make all the difference.

Best line from the trailer: “Changing the binary gender system of these two strict boxes will benefit everyone.

9:30 p.m. show

Ready? OK!

Comedy. Ready? OK! is an funny, touching, sweet film about a young boy who is beginning to display all the tell-tale signs of being gay. And his mother, struggling to raise him on her own, doesn’t know how to deal with it or where to turn. Look for Thom Schnarre’s review of this film next week.

Best line from the trailer: “The Normal Heights All-City Winter Cheer Camp holds many possibilities for a young boy like myself.”

Week 3: June 18

7:30 p.m. show

Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch

Documentary. Charlotte Bunch is a surprisingly little-known civil rights activist and lesbian separatist, who has done extraordinary work both domestically and internationally for women’s rights and gender equality. Look for Smile Politely’s review of this film in the coming weeks.

Best line from the trailer: “We started the first women’s liberation group in Washington in 1968. I had a very nice husband and we were equal partners… And then Rita Mae Brown came into my life.”

9:30 p.m. Show

Mosquita Y Mari

Drama. A casual friendship between two high school girls progresses into a deep, affectionate bond that takes them both by surprise. Some dialogue in Spanish, with English subtitles. Look for Jeremiah Stanley’s review of this film in the coming weeks.

Best line from the trailer: “Mosquita y Mari. Fuck the rest… It’s me and you for life.”

Week 4: June 25

7:30 p.m. show

Scary Normal

Comedy. Scary Normal is an independent, local film by our own Jennifer Bechtel. It tells the story of Chelsea, who alternates between being proud of her quirky family and cringing from embarrassment by them. Enter Danielle, a cool, confident lesbian who is everything Chelsea wants to be. Katie Baldwin will review this film in the coming weeks.

Best line from the trailer: “Don’t worry; I’m not going to seduce you into The Gay or anything.”


9:30 p.m. show


Drama. Lukas is a twenty-year-old who is transitioning from female to male. When he meets Fabio, he’s afraid that disclosing will ruin their relationship before it’s even begun. In German, with English subtitles.

Best line from the trailer: Ine: “You smell sweaty.” Lukas [excitedly]: “Manly sweat!”



Reel It UP begins tonight, Tuesday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, please visit the UP Center’s website (tickets can also be purchased at the door).

Ticket Type:

Adult Price

Student/Youth Price

Individual Movie Ticket



Full Night Ticket



Full Month Pass



Individual Movie Tickets/Full Night Tickets — With paid receipt, receive one free glass of house wine per ticket purchased at Minneci’s Ristorante. This can be redeemed one time only on any Tuesday in June 2013.

Full Month Pass — With physical pass, receive choice of one free appetizer, one free dessert, or one free cocktail. This can be redeemed one time on each Tuesday in June 2013.

More Articles