Reeling film festival announces 2013 dates and new staff

Mon. May 20, 2013 6:45 PM

Richard Knight, Jr. named Program Director; Gretchen Blickensderfer name Managing Director

Chicago, IL - Chicago Filmmakers, the presenting organization of Reeling, the world's second oldest LGBT film festival, announced today return dates for the festival after its 2012 hiatus. The 31st edition of Reeling - which has been officially rechristened Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival - will be held November 7-14, 2013 (with an official Call for Entries coming later this week). Richard Knight, Jr. has been named Program Director and Gretchen Blickensderfer has been named Managing Director for Reeling. The duo will split responsibilities for the festival.

In making the announcement, Chicago Filmmakers' Executive Director Brenda Webb said, "Richard will bring a fresh, exciting eye, along with his extensive film knowledge to his selections for the festival. As the founder of the Queer Film Society, film critic for Windy City Times and a filmmaker himself, he has long demonstrated his passion for LGBT cinema. Gretchen's vast experience in the area of arts management, sponsorship and fundraising, especially for the renowned Golden Apple Awards - not to mention her personal commitment to LGBT arts and her own experience as a film critic and writer - make her a superb addition to the Reeling team as well."

Initially, Reeling was looking for a single festival director to succeed Webb, who has held the post since she founded the festival in 1981 (and will continue in her role as Executive Director of Chicago Filmmakers). But combining the talents of both Knight and Blickensderfer proved irresistible when the opportunity to do so presented itself. "This is a win-win situation for Reeling - having both Richard and Gretchen working in tandem is a tremendously exciting prospect for the festival," Webb commented.

Knight, who is openly gay, has been the film critic for Windy City Times since May of 2004. In 2009 he formed the Queer Film Society, a small non-profit comprised of openly queer film critics, academics, and film historians. The mission of the QFS is to support queer cinema whenever possible. In 2012 he co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced Scrooge & Marley, a modern day, queer variation on "A Christmas Carol." Knight is a member of the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, and is a former board member of Open Hand Chicago.

Blickensderfer, a native of Manchester, England brings over 16 years of experience as a fundraiser, events planner and public relations director for a wide range of non-profits across the Midwest to her newly created position with Reeling. Highlights of her career include planning and execution, for five years, of the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching for WTTW/11. In addition to being a screenwriter and novelist, she has also been a film critic for Fox59 television and WXNT Radio in Indianapolis. Blickensderfer sits on the Advisory Board of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Born male, she transitioned in 2009 and the experience inspired her book, "The Last Circle."

About Chicago Filmmakers

Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that has been supporting independent film since 1973. We offer classes for adults and youth, provide a wide range of services for filmmakers, fund digital media productions, present a weekly independent film screening series, and produce two film festivals. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for artists and audiences to experience filmmaking outside the mainstream marketplace.

From a news release