Release dateOctober 13, 2009 (2009-10-13) (Pusan International Film Festival) Based onWinesburg, Ohio
by Sherwood Anderson
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Chicago Heights (alternate title: The Last Soul on a Summer Night) is a 2009 film written and directed by Daniel Nearing. This experimental, non-linear film is an ambitious adaptation of Sherwood Anderson’s short story cycle, Winesburg, Ohio. Noted film critic Roger Ebert included Chicago Heights in his list of the Top Art Films of 2010.
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Chicago Heights is set in the mind of an old writer (William Gray) as lies on his bed. Sensing his death is imminent, his mind drifts, and he remembers people, but can't discern if they are part of his dreams, his memories, or his inventions.
The reflections relate to the elderly man’s coming of age (Nathan Walker is played as younger by Andre Truss) and his relationship with his mother (Keisha Dyson). He also sees into the lives of others he might have known, like a Chicago Heights church pastor (Gerrold Johnson), a professor (Michaele Nicole), and a psychologist (Benny Stewart) who worked with his mother.
Andre Truss - Nathan Walker
Keisha Dyson - Elizabeth Walker
Benny Steward - Narrator / Doctor Reefy
Jay Johnson - Reverend Curtis Hartman
William Gray - Sherwood Anderson / Older Nathan
Ron Jarmon, Jr. - Wash Williams
Simone Wilson - Louise Trunnion
Terah Jene Weddington - Helen White
Michaele Nicole - Kate Swift
James Barbee - Dante Hard
Raven Reeves - Calla Hard
Jason Coleman - The Stranger
Brian Harris - Tom Walker
Tovah Hicks - Margot Williams
Barbara Hogu - Mrs. Swift
Homer Talbert - Elizabeth’s Father
Sherri Evans - Mrs. Hartman
Mercedes Kane - Actress / Snow Angel
Leah Shortell - Patient / Snow Angel
Lynn Werth - Margot’s Mother
Lisa Klein - Dead Elizabeth
Linsey Savage - Man in Snowstorm
Victor Collazo - Man in Forest Under the Church
Finnegan Klein-Nearing - Depression
See article on Winesburg, Ohio (the novel)
Because Winesburg, Ohio is collection of inter-related stories and not a linear novel, Many critics thought it could never be made into a film. Nearing and writing partner Rudy Thauberger began adapting the book more than a decade before the film was made.
The pair struggled to find a way to adapt the book to fit the conventional three-act film script structure. When it became clear that a straight adaptation wouldn’t work, Nearing decided to draw a line through the book’s key stories by consolidating some characters and taking some carefully considered liberties with the overall story. One of the biggest changes was moving the period story from rural Ohio to a present-day urban setting. Those modifications allowed Nearing to capture the essence of Sherwood Anderson’s sprawling book in a feature length film.
Chicago Heights was produced in numerous Illinois communities and cities: Chicago Heights, Lockport, Evanston, University Park, and Chicago.
Chicago Heights music was composed by Minister Raymond Dunlap. Lyrics to "Nobody Knows" and numerous other songs are written by Daniel Nearing and Sherwood Anderson.
Recognition and honors
Recognition and Awards
*Best Art Films of 2010 - Roger Ebert
In Competition - Flash Forward - Busan International Film Festival
Best Film in a Fine Arts Discipline - Berlin Black Film Festival
Official Selection - Black Harvest Film Festival, Gene Siskel Film Center
Official Selection - Ohio Independent Film Festival
Short Film Corner (as "Nobody Knows), Festival de Cannes
Honorable Mention, Narrative Category - Columbus International Film Festival