Daniel Nearing

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Daniel R. Nearing
Daniel Nearing GSFC 2.png
Daniel Nearing
Born Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Citizenship American
Alma mater University of Toronto
Notable work(s) Chicago Heights, Hogtown

Daniel Nearing (born December 21, 1961) is a Chicago, Illinois-based screenwriter, film director and independent filmmaker. His breakthrough film, the micro-budget production Chicago Heights (2010) garnered rave reviews, especially among fans of the original source material, Sherwood Anderson’s influential collection of short stories, Winesburg, Ohio, a book long thought impossible to be adapted as a film. Noted film critic Roger Ebert included Chicago Heights in his list of the Top Art Films of 2010.[1]

Nearing’s storytelling style tends to be more circular than linear. He views plot as a veneer that ties together the more important, character-centered aspects of any story. Nearing is known for building sequences of vignettes and using powerful imagery to focus on the isolation and humility of human life. He works primarily in black and white, with moments of what he refers to as "ecstatic color" and with heavily shadowed, "idiosyncratic" shot compositions.[2]

Nearing is also a professor at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, where he is a three-time winner of faculty excellence awards and oversees the MFA in Independent Film and Digital Imaging program.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Nearing was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, one of Jack and Sheilah Nearing’s five children. His father worked as an educator and educational administrator and the J.J. Nearing Catholic Elementary School[4] was named in his honour after he retired. The family lived in three Canadian provinces and in Boulder, Colorado. Nearing’s interest in writing started as a 13-year-old in a small class of students from the University of Colorado, meeting writers of speculative fiction such as Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg and Ursula K. Le Guin.

He studied for his MA in modern and contemporary literature at the University of Toronto, and went on to earn an MFA in film from Toronto’s York University, and served as producer resident at the Canadian Film Centre. He has studied under Northrop Frye (Anatomy of Criticism) and Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient).

Nearing began his film career as a documentary filmmaker, making narrative-driven documentaries for both Canadian and U.S. outlets such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Discovery Networks, The Sports Network and Bravo. Subjects include juvenile homicide; the longest bridge in the world over ice-forming waters; Russians playing in the National Hockey League; and the stagecraft of some of the world's finest writers. He shifted his focus to dramatic projects and founded 9:23 Films in 2008, feeling that documentary filmmaking "does not allow such direct access to deeper truths."

After several attempts at a faithful adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, with collaborator Rudy Thauberger, the script and its production finally clicked when Nearing decided to set the rural period piece in a contemporary city. Chicago Heights was shot for just $1,000 in 2009, with Nearing as director/co-producer and Sanghoon Lee as cinematographer/producer. Chicago Heights premiered in competition at the Busan International Film Festival, was named Best Film in a Fine Arts Discipline at the Berlin Black Film Festival and received an Honorable Mention at the Columbus International Film Festival. A short version, Nobody Knows, was placed in the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner.

In 2011 Nearing adapted Rudy Thauberger’s Goalie, a widely anthologized Canadian short story about hockey and obsession. The film was placed at the Cannes Short Film Corner and had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in fall 2011.

Nearing followed those projects up with his original script Hogtown, a murder mystery set against the backdrop of the 1919 Chicago race riots. This film reveals the collective influence the works Sherwood Anderson, EL Doctorow and Michael Ondaatje have had on Nearing’s work. Shot on a $10,000 budget, Hogtown was filmed on location in Illinois, Indiana, Ontario and Paris. The film stars Herman Wilkins, Diandra Lyle, McKenzie Chinn, Pete Giovagnoli, Dianne Bischoff, Alexander Sharon and Marco Garcia. It is currently in post-production.[5]

Nearing is presently (2013) in development with Raphael Berdugo of Cite Films on Archives of the Planet, a documentary about Albert Khan and the birth of color in photography. He is also developing Emerald Lake, a film about the death of a parent and the childhood experiences that define us, and Petit Monde, an experimental narrative set in Paris in 1909, involving Marcel Proust, Henri Bergson, and Albert Kahn.

A Chicago resident since 2001, Nearing has been married to graphic designer Lisa Klein since 2009. Their vintage Chicago bungalow has been profiled in American Bungalow [6] and appears in Chicago Heights, Goalie and Hogtown.


Feature films[edit]

  • Petit Monde (Writer-Director-Producer, in development)
  • Emerald Lake (Writer-Director-Producer, in development)
  • Hogtown (Writer-Director-Producer, 2015)
  • Chicago Heights (Director, co-writer - 2010; renamed The Last Soul on a Summer Night in 2012)


  • Archives of the Planet (Co-Producer, in development)
  • Literary Olympics (Writer-Director-Producer, Bravo, 1999)
  • Bomb Tech (Writer - The Discovery Channel, 1998)
  • Giant's Playground (Writer-Director, The Discovery Channel, 1997)
  • Soviet Reunion: The Russian Red Wings (Writer-Director-Producer, TSN - The Sports Network, 1996)
  • Frayne: Portrait of the Sportswriter Laureate (Writer-Director-Producer, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1995)
  • The Big Train (Writer-Director-Producer, TSN - The Sports Network, 1994)
  • When Children Kill (Writer-Director-Producer, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1992)

Short films[edit]

  • Nobody Knows (Writer-Director, 2010)
  • Goalie (Director, 2011)
  • Patrimony (Writer-Director-Producer, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1993)

Awards and recognition[edit]


  • “HOGTOWN expands into a multilayered, multicultural tapestry of a city and a century... Though made on a miniscule budget, the film is epic in its scope and ravishingly photographed (mostly in luminous black-and-white), designed, and scored.” – Marty Rubin, The Gene Siskel Film Center
  • “...an outstanding whodunit about a detective investigating the disappearance of a movie theater millionaire in 1919 Chicago. Audacious styling mixes chiaroscuro lighting and onscreen verse... Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Jack Dempsey, Gloria Swanson and Mayor William Hale Thompson [are] in supporting roles for an epic tragedy of race.”– Bill Stamets, The Chicago Sun-Times
  • “Roger Ebert...named [the filmmakers’] previous work, CHICAGO HEIGHTS, one of the best art films of 2010. HOGTOWN is a remarkably daring piece of work conceptually...[crafting] a narrative around the 1919 race riots...in a way that makes the entire experience feel like a dream.” – Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com
  • "A beautiful book has inspired this beautiful film." [8]Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times
  • "This stunning adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio... is an aesthetic and political knockout… both profoundly affecting on its own right and as a beau ideal of detournement." Monica Westin, Flavorpill
  • “poetic and haunting” – Sergio Mims, Shadow and Act: On Media of the African Diaspora
  • “a gorgeously photographed, beautifully scored tour de force.” – Marty Rubin, The Gene Siskel Film Center
  • “Fascinating... nothing beats the awesome footage...but what gives Giant’s Playground its richness is the attention it pays to peripheral details.” Henry Mietkiewicz, The Toronto Star
  • “A... revelation to those of us who have never heard of the once-acclaimed athlete of the half-century.” John Haslett Cuff, The Globe and Mail

[9] [10] ==References==

  1. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Best Art Films of 2010". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Hendrickson, Paula. "Daniel Nearing and The Last Soul on a Summer Night". Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "MFA IFDI website". Governors State University. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "JJ Nearing Catholic Elementary School". Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "9:23 Films website". Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Hendrickson, Paula. American Bungalow "Treasure Hunting". Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Best Art Films of 2010 - Roger Ebert
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Chicago Heights". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Koziarski, Ed. "Winesburg, Ohio, in Chicago Heights". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Marz, Megan. "Chicago Heights". The Point. 

External links[edit]