The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES says "HOGTOWN is the most original film made in Chicago about Chicago to date." This beautiful, challenging independent film is set in 1919 Chicago against the backdrop of the race riots of that year and its message in 2015 is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The story follows an investigation into the disappearance of a millionaire theatre owner during a snowstorm. HOGTOWN is a murder mystery that celebrates the most American of American cities while exploring the intimate lives of many of its people. This period piece is much more a period-less piece, shot in black and white in the often undisguised contemporary city. The film involves a multi-racial, multilingual ensemble cast of more than 70 characters, and a full symphony orchestra score. HOGTOWN evolves directly from the ensemble process of the making our previous feature, Chicago Heights, which was named to Roger Ebert's last list of Best Art Films.
Daniel NearingDirectorCHICAGO HEIGHTS
Herman WilkinsCastTHE SHIELD, THE DIVISION, AMERICAN SON
Diandra LyleCastNCIS, MURDER IN THE FIRST, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
Rachel RozyckiProducerLIFE ITSELF
Sanghoon LeeProducerCHICAGO HEIGHTS
Daniel NearingWriterCHICAGO HEIGHTS
Runtime:1 hour 35 minutes
Completion Date:February 5, 2015
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:United States
Shooting Format:XDCAM HD
Film Color:Black & White and Color
Gene Siskel Film CenterChicago, IL
February 20, 2015
The best film made in Chicago, 2015 - Chicago Reader
Charlotte Black Film FestivalCharlotte, NC
April 10, 2015
30th Black International Cinema BerlinBerlin, Germany
May 6, 2015
Winner: Best Film in Fine Arts Discipline
European Film MarketBerlin, Germany
February 9, 2015
St Louis Black Film FestivalSt Louis, MO
October 3, 2015
International Black Film FestivalNashville, TN
October 2, 2015
In Feature Competition
Winner: Best Feature Film (Judge: Moira Kelly, Sundance Institute)
The International Festival of World Cinema MilanMilan, Italy
November 6, 2015
The Los Angeles Black Film FestivalLos Angeles, CA
November 7, 2015
Winner: Best Picture
The Big House Los Angeles Entertainment FestivalLos Angeles, CA
November 14, 2015
Playoff Competition among 300 films in seven regional festivals
IFP Champion - Winner of Best Picture
Critical Edge Film FestivalBoulder, CO
Screening date TBD
African Diaspora International Film FestivalWashington, DC
August 19, 2016
Festival International des Films de la Diaspora AfricaineParis, France
September 9, 2016
African Diaspora International Film Festival - NYCNew York City
November 25, 2016
New York premiere
ArtMattan ProductionsCountry: United StatesRights: All Rights
Writer-Director, 9/23 Films - Chicago
DANIEL NEARING studied for his MA in modern and contemporary Literature at the University of Toronto, received an MFA in Film from York University, and was a Producer Resident at the Canadian Film Centre. He is a 2015 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
Nearing recently completed HOGTOWN, the second film in a trilogy of multiethnic, ensemble period features shot in black and white and "ecstatic color." The film looks at the emergence of a multicultural America through the prism of Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times calls it "the most original film made in Chicago about Chicago to date." The Chicago Reader has named HOGTOWN the best feature film made in Chicago for 2015.
The first film in the trilogy, CHICAGO HEIGHTS, is an adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. The film, a "period-less" observation on exurban and small town life, played at festivals around the world and Roger Ebert named it to his list of the Best Art Films of 2010.
Nearing has worked as producer, director, writer and editor for numerous films on several networks. His documentary subjects have ranged from juvenile homicide (CBC) to the longest bridge in the world over ice-forming waters (Discovery) to Russians playing in the National Hockey League (The Sports Network) and a look at the stagecraft of some of the world's finest writers (Bravo). He moved from documentaries to dramatic projects and founded 9:23 Films in 2008.
Nearing is currently in development on four feature projects: an adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's 1900 landmark novel, SISTER CARRIE; EMERALD LAKE, a road movie set in the Canadian Rockies; PETIT MONDE, a film set in 1909 Paris; and THE PEERLESS FILM MANUFACTURING COMPANY, an ensemble feature about the birth of the American film industry set in 1907 Chicago.
HOGTOWN explores new cinematic techniques while observing a century’s worth of inter-racial struggle and the birth of a new multicultural America.
NARRATION: The film employs text as narration in an unusual fashion, allowing the underlying sound to assert its presence. The text narration is shared with the characters themselves. Some of the character-delivered narration is direct address; some is spoken under the breath or in plainly spoken thought. Some is in the first person; some is in the third person: the characters are simultaneously inside the moment and observing themselves from the distance of memory.
PORTRAIT FRAMES. A number of our principals and peripheral characters stop in mid-scene to pose for their portraits. There is a limit of one portrait per person, and it is set for posterity.
EPIPHANIES: Scene structure typically entails a moment when we encounter a break between expectation and outcome at the plot level. Hogtown’s plot is largely illusory. The film’s primary aim from scene to scene is to arrive at individualized epiphanies, or still points in the characters' turning worlds.
TRANSITIONAL SEQUENCES: These short sequences are often landscapes or montages of unknown persons. Each transitional sequence has a focus -- e.g. poverty, immigration, imprisonment, beauty -- and in their aggregate they help to compose a wider sense of HOGTOWN, the world of the story.
BLACK AND WHITE WITH “ECSTATIC” COLOR. Our frames are ruled by mood, dominated by black tones enriched through Cinegamma filtering, perspectives influenced by careful and limited approaches to lighting, altered emotionally through canted and otherwise unusual angles. The people of HOGTOWN dwell in a perpetually dark place. There are fleeting moments, though, that seem to call for color. They draw us insistently, albeit briefly, out of the darkness and into the experience of some variation of beauty.
ABSENT EXPOSITION: This movie is both murder mystery and love story but it lacks much of the fabric of exposition we expect in mainstream films and will consequently disappoint some expectations. The murder mystery plot is for all intents a backdrop for the escalating epiphanies, and when details are missing, we've often let them stay missing rather than draw them in to serve or assert an illusory plot. We want it to keep an audience engaged at the plot level, but also to subtly betray the meaninglessness of a plot orientation, if that makes sense.
PERIOD-LESS PIECE: The film is set in 1919 but makes no attempt to hide contemporary buildings and some contemporary objects. Our position on this is that a period piece says as much about the time in which it is composed as the time in which it is set, and that most of the issues experienced in America in 1919 resonate through today. We’re sticking with that explanation, but to be completely honest, necessity is the mother of invention here. We have made the film with virtually no budget, and therefore could not afford to produce a full-fledged period piece.