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Reeling Film Festival Finds Warm Welcome at Logan Theatre

By Darryl Holliday | September 19, 2013 7:29am
 A neighborhood coalition formed solely to welcome the Reeling Film Festival to Logan Square aims to pave the way for its success.
A neighborhood coalition formed solely to welcome the Reeling Film Festival to Logan Square aims to pave the way for its success.
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DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday

LOGAN SQUARE — The Reeling Film Festival is getting a first-class reception via a social organization formed for sole purpose of welcoming its move to Logan Square in style.

A recent alliance of community members held a meet-and-greet Wednesday night for the festival, the second-oldest gay and lesbian film festival in the world, which will be moving from its long-standing home in Lakeview to the Logan Theatre this year for its 31st installment.

Robert Castillo said the newly minted Logan Square Host Committee may engage Logan Square newcomers in the future, but, for now, the committee has "coalesced around Reeling to promote a welcoming environment for festival-goers."

According to Castillo, the committee is made up of about 20 interconnected business and community leaders, including State Rep. Toni Berrios (D-39th) and the man responsible for greenlighting the festival's move to Logan Square, Ald. Rey Colon (35th).

"This is the first time in 30 years we've ever had a committee organize itself around us," said Brenda Webb, executive director of Chicago Filmmakers and founder of the Reeling Film Festival.

"It's really giving me confidence," she said of the festival's move from its decades-long stint in Lakeview. "The big question has been, 'Will people follow us?' — and the big surprise has been that there are already people here waiting for us." 

Though Webb said she initially worried whether Reeling was in the right place, the warm community welcome has put her fears to rest. Webb, who lived in Logan Square for a short period in 1979 before eventually settling in Andersonville, is making a return of sorts.

Logan Square "was a very different place," she said. "This makes me feel like Logan Square is a new community ... here you have people where we're already on their radar."

At Wednesday's meet-and-greet, Castillo, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years and has memories of seeing films in the Logan Theatre as a child, expressed gratitude to the festival organizers for moving it to the neighborhood.

"I wish my late husband, John, could see this — he'd be right over the moon," Castillo told the audience gathered at the theater.

The Reeling Film Festival, founded by Webb in 1981, took a year off last year before eventually bringing in new leadership and deciding on a move from its longtime home at the Landmark Theatre to Logan Square. 

The festival will still open Nov. 7 at the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview, which has a larger capacity to accommodate the first night's turnout.

But the rest of the week, Nov. 8-14, the majority of the festival's events, —  some 40 film screenings, meet-and-greets, Q-and-As with the filmmakers and more — will be held at the Logan Theatre.

Organizers will announce the festival's lineup at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St.