When most Chicago residents and visitors think about the city's LGBT community, the bars and restaurants of Boystown are the first things that come to mind. While a fun Saturday night along Halsted is never a bad plan, don't limit yourself. The Chicagoans that make up our LGBT population are a proud and talented group with much more to offer than dinner and drinks. Take an eye-opening peek into of the most anticipated cultural events of the year when Reeling32: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival kicks off tonight.

For eight days and nights, films from around the country will come to Lakeview to reflect and explore gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans relationships and lifestyles on screen. Over 100 films will be screened ranging from dramas to comedies to animated features to documentaries. Many of the screenings will include post-screening Q&As with the filmmakers or cast members (check the film festival's website for individual screening details).

The 32nd year of Reeling opens with a special event tonight at the Music Box Theater (3733 N. Southport). Trans actress Michelle Hendley makes her charming on screen debut in romantic comedy "Boy Meets Girl." Come early for the pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m. Enjoy a screening of the film at 7:30 p.m. (director Eric Schaeffer and Hendley will be in attendance) and stay up too late afterwards at the official after party hosted by the Gingerman Tavern (3740 N. Clark St.).


Filmmakers, in addition to a week's worth of creative inspiration, you'll also want to check in to this year's Reeling Seminar focusing on making your own Digital Cinema Package (DCP). The event will be held at Days Inn Lincoln Park North on Saturday (Sept. 20) at 1:30 p.m.

The destination film fest winds down with a special screening of "Blackbird," a dramatic coming-of-age story which features Academy Award winner Mo'Nique, at the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark St.). A Q&A with director Patrik-Ian Polk ("Punks," "Noah's Arc") and actor Gary L. Gray will follow then head to Progress Bar (3359 N. Halsted St.) for the official after party.

For a full screening schedule and ticket info (available for purchase in packages or for individual screenings), check Reeling's website.