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Second annual "Reel Queer Film Festival" opens April 1

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The second annual "Reel Queer Film Festival" at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign kicks off with "Trembling Before G-d," a movie exploring the ways Orthodox Jews reconcile their love of Judaism with biblical prohibitions against homosexuality.

"Trembling" will be shown at 7:30 p.m. April 1 (Tuesday) in 100 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana. A discussion led by Matti Bunzl, a professor of Jewish culture in the anthropology department at Illinois, will follow. All of the 12 films and special events in the festival, which runs through April 5 (Saturday), are free and open to the public.

A highlight of the festival will be the area premiere of Sherman Alexie’s film, "The Business of Fancydancing," on April 4 in 192 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana. In the film, which Alexie wrote and directed, a successful gay Native American poet confronts his past when he returns to the reservation to attend a close friend’s funeral.

A short film titled "Two Spirit People" will precede the Alexie film. The 20-minute short, which begins at 7:30 p.m., explores the Native American tradition in which individuals who embody feminine and masculine qualities act as conduits between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Another festival highlight is the workshop to be conducted by the transgender slam poet Marcus Rene Van at 2 p.m. April 4 in 101 Armory, 505 E. Armory Ave., Champaign. Van also will introduce his five-minute film "Junk Box Warrior" and respond to questions beginning at 7:30 p.m. the previous day, April 3, in 213 Gregory Hall. Van’s film is the leadoff for "An Evening of Shorts."

Film director Johnny Symons also will take part in the festival, showing his film "Daddy and Papa," which deals with gay fatherhood, at 7:30 p.m. April 2.

The festival is sponsored by Illinois’ Office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns, Office of Women’s Programs, Red Roots (the Native American Student Organization), Native American House, the Housing Division, the Hillel Foundation, SOLIS (the gay student organization at the College of Law), and the College of Law. For more information, visit the festival Web site or call the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns at (217) 244-8863.