Chicago Heights (2010) and Hogtown (2014), the first two installments of a projected trilogy by writer-director Daniel Nearing, both made their local debuts at the Black Harvest Film Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center, and they return this week in honor of Black History Month. Yet Nearing is a white artist drawing heavily on white literary sources: Chicago Heights is adapted from Sherwood Anderson’s classic story collection Winesburg, Ohio, and Hogtown is an unacknowledged remake of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. One might cry foul if both movies weren’t dominated by richly detailed black characters, and if Nearing weren’t so interested in bridging divides—not only between white and black experience, but between the past and present. Both movies take place in the 1910s, yet the shooting locations include such anachronistic sights as Millennium Park and the Picasso in Daley Plaza. Anderson conceived of his Winesburg as a hick town that could be anywhere; Nearing sets his stories a hundred years ago, but they could be happening anytime. Continue reading >>