This study concerns itself with the visual representations of The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival (a.k.a. Reeling) with specific attention paid to their marketing campaign materials, as exemplified by the annually created festival poster. It is my aim to situate these posters alongside the historical contexts of queer identity, sociopolitical advocacy, and LGBTQ+ cinema. This analysis will navigate the 36-year period of the festival organization’s existence, providing key in-depth interrogations into the decades, images, and trends both visual and narrative. My unpacking and theoretical discussions of the festival’s visual culture has been informed by the practices of semiotics and film genre theory. These methods were employed to answer the primary research question: How have the poster advertisements, as visual signifiers for The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, symbolized their organization’s mission, represented queer identities, and engaged with the politically contested history of queer cinematic representation?

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