Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival is the second longest-running film festival of its kind, and prides itself on showcasing the best LGBTQ+ films each year.

From award-winning international feature films to social documentaries to experimental shorts, Reeling has always presented a range of genres that demonstrate the rich diversity of work being produced. Not only has Reeling become one of the most important cultural events for Chicagoans, it also attracts audiences from throughout the Midwest who consider the festival to be the highlight of their cinematic year.

The first Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival took place in April 1981 in Chicago Filmmakers’ 90-seat folding-chair screening room on West Hubbard Street. The festival sold out nearly every screening, leaving audiences demanding more. The enthusiasm for the festival led to a commitment on the part of Chicago Filmmakers to continue the festival as an annual event, and it has been going strong ever since.

The mission of Reeling is to recognize the important artistic contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender filmmakers have made to our culture; to educate the general population and sensitize them to lesbian, gay and transgender issues; to investigate the history of LGBTQ+ film, including the stereotyping that has been a major part of this history; and to counteract this stereotyping with valid, meaningful and diverse LGBTQ+ stories.

The festival provides a unique opportunity for the celebration of these identities for a community too often misrepresented or ignored in mainstream film and television.

Entries are eligible for audience awards in the categories of Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Episodic Series, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Experimental or Animated Film; and juried awards in the categories of Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Episodic Series, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Experimental or Animated Film. Additional cash prizes may be awarded on behalf of Reeling sponsors.

Reeling 2023: The 41st Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival will screen approximately 75-100 independent films and videos in-person and online over 18 days from September 21 - October 8.

We invite you to enter this year's festival and ask you to please take a moment to read through our Festival Regulations and Entry Procedures before you enter your work.

For information on last year's festival, visit us at

For more information or questions, call 773-293-1447 or email We look forward to viewing your work!

Send to: Chicago Filmmakers
Attn: Reeling Film Festival
1326 W. Hollywood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660


By entering Reeling, the entrant acknowledges that Reeling is not obligated to pay rental fees or screening fees for the exhibition of entered works.

Official entries will be eligible for Jury Awards voted on by juries of film professionals and Audience Awards chosen by audience vote.

Submissions must be submitted via a secure online screener (e.g. with password) or uploaded to FilmFreeway for preview. Entrants must also supply a password-protected screener link for press review purposes immediately upon notification of acceptance into Reeling.

Entrants will be marked as “In Consideration” on FilmFreeway once the payment, entry form, and preview link have all been received. If your entry is accepted for exhibition, you will be notified via email by August 10, 2023.

A minimum of 3 still photos from your submitted work are required for all films selected for the festival. Preferred format is TIF, PNG, or low compressed JPEG in the highest resolution available. Preferred minimum size of 1800 pixels x 1200 pixels in horizontal aspect ratio. Posters and/or additional photos in a vertical format are strongly encouraged.

Rough cuts and works-in-progress are eligible for submission only if a completed final copy is available for preview by June 1, 2023. A brief explanation describing changes to be made for the final version and expected date of completion must be included with your entry.

We generally do not program works that have screened in Chicago, have been shown on television, or are available on DVD or online prior to the festival. Exceptions are determined on a case-by-case basis. It is your responsibility to disclose this information on your entry form and to notify us immediately of any changes after your submission is made.

Reeling will provide specifications for exhibition options upon acceptance.

Reeling is committed to increasing access for people with disabilities to our online and in-person programming. Though not required, we encourage all selected filmmakers to submit caption files (or hard coded open captions) along with the exhibition copy. Availability of audio description is also welcome.

Exhibition copies must be sent to the festival prepaid. The festival cannot accept nor assume responsibility for damage or loss of materials while in transit. For DCPs, please do not use fiber-filled shipping envelopes.

***International Shipping***
Foreign entries must be shipped prepaid. Exhibition copies must be sent directly to the festival office with all transportation charges, delivery fees, and any duties or taxes prepaid by the shipper. The entrant will have to bear financial responsibility in the event that the festival is charged any brokerage fees. Please be sure to include all proper customs documentation. We recommend that the following declaration be printed on the outside of the package and on customs forms: TEMPORARY IMPORTATION – FOR FILM FESTIVAL EXHIBITION ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL VALUE.

***Return Shipping***
Feature exhibition copies will be returned to the entrant at the festival’s expense, using a method and carrier of the festival's choosing. Express shipping or shipping to any other destination that incurs higher shipping charges (such as transshipments to foreign film festivals on behalf of the filmmaker) must be borne by the entrant or the recipient. Trans-shipments of exhibition copies to other festivals must be requested in writing, and is subject to approval.

***Change of Address***
It is the responsibility of the entrant to notify Reeling of a change of address by emailing The entrant must accept responsibility for the cost of reshipping exhibition copies returned to the festival due to a change of address, unless written notification was given to the festival prior to return shipping.

The festival cannot accept nor assume responsibility for damage or loss of materials while in transit. In the event of loss or damage during the festival, the festival’s responsibility is limited to repair or replacement of the print.

Programmed works may be excerpted for TV, website, and other promotional purposes. Photos and trailers or clips supplied by makers may be used for promotional purposes. Reeling must be notified in writing at the time of submission of any press restrictions.

Entering your film or web series automatically indicates your acceptance of all Reeling 2023 submission guidelines and regulations. By entering the festival, the entrant automatically authorizes Reeling to publicly screen the work in the festival and agrees to provide an exhibition copy for the period of the festival (September 21 - October 8) AT NO CHARGE. If the film is picked up for distribution after the film has been entered, it is still the responsibility of the entrant to provide an exhibition copy to the festival without charge. Once a film/tape is submitted for entry, it may not be withdrawn. The entrant assumes all financial responsibility and legal liability for the content of their work including, but not limited to, usage of all copyrighted material for story, voice, visual images, and music.

Overall Rating
  • NuReality Productions

    I was going to attend this awesome festival but Chicago and my travel plans didn't gel, but dealing with the crew (Jackie, Kelly and the rest of the Reel team) were so responsive and accommodating. Thx y'all! I hope to bring a new film and attend next time.

    October 2022
  • Ashton Pina

    Reeling is the best. So grateful for a fabulous experience.

    October 2022
  • Julie Casper Roth

    Reeling is simply wonderful. I attended my first 15 years ago. It was so nice to return. The festival is well run, has plenty of networking, and is staffed by awesome people. Had a wonderful experience!

    October 2022
  • This festival has an incredibly inclusive, hospitable energy to it and is such an important landmark in the Chicago community bringing films-- and filmmakers-- from around the world together to celebrate queer cinema. And what a wonderful Q&A we got to have! Reeling was an honor to be part of it and I hope to be invited back in the future and many thanks to Chicago Filmmakers for all their ridiculously dedicated work to make this festival happen, and to include accessible screenings. These folks are among the most dedicated curators and jurors I have ever experienced.

    October 2022
  • Kelly Walker

    Thank you for including My Fiona in your festival!

    October 2021