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Nashville homophobia and lost Hollywood pipe dreams are among our top picks for ‘Reeling’ LGBTQ+ fil

CHICAGO — “What if?” Two words; one question.

The movies love that question. It fulfills the weirdest daydreams, unearths long-buried treasure, imagines what might’ve been and might be still.

Three of the films screening this week at “Reeling: The 39th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival,” held at the Landmark Century Centre, dig into cruel, mercurial American show business history and what might’ve been.

Two are documentaries, intriguing and bittersweet: “Boulevard! A Hollywood Story” and “Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music.” The third, “The Sixth Reel,” is co-written, co-directed and stars Charles Busch in and out of drag. His comedy wonders what might happen among a group of rabid Greenwich Village cinephiles if the lost 1927 Lon Chaney silent feature “London After Midnight” got itself found. Together these films convene a sort of seminar devoted to popular culture’s shadow history.

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