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Dan Dinello Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2022-01
Preservation Sponsor: Dan Dinello
Extent of collection
16 reels of 16mm film.
Inclusive Dates
1977 - 1997
The Dan Dinello Collection consists of 16mm prints and DVDs of films directed by Chicago-based experimental filmmaker Dan Dinello. The films were all independently produced, financed through a mixture of grants, personal funds, and money raised by the filmmaker's friends and supporters. The collection includes fictional narrative and experimental films made between 1977 and 1997. Many of the films were created in collaboration with artists in Chicago, and focus on telling the stories of society's outliers. While the works are concerned with expressing socio-political issues, they also share a dark sense of humor. Included in the collection are the films Shock Asylum (1996), Wheels of Fury (1997), and Rock Lobster (1980).

A filmmaker, journalist, and author, native Chicagoan Dan Dinello (Professor Emeritus at Columbia College Chicago) is a member of the DGA (Directors Guild of America). From 1977 to 1998, Dan made several award-winning shorts as an independent filmmaker. These included several collaborations with his nephew Paul Dinello (The Late Show,  At Home with Amy Sedaris, Strangers With Candy), Shock Asylum and Beyond the Door — both starred Paul and Stephen Colbert, and, Wheels of Fury, starring Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris. Among other films, he made the new wave/disco musical Rock Lobster (1980), created a music video documentary about the African music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1985) and an early documentary on the gay and lesbian liberation movement Pink Triangles Rising (1982). 

Alongside this work, Dinello contributed chapters to  ten books about philosophy, science fiction (such as The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy) and music (The Who and Philosophy). He’s written over 300 articles for various publications including  The Chicago Tribune,  New City, Chicago Reader, Alternative Press,,  and the  Guardian. Most recently he’s published political articles on the website Informed Comment.

In 2019, he wrote his third book, Children of Men. Published by Oxford University Press/Auteur Press/Liverpool University Press in 2019,  Children of Men  investigates Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 dystopian, science fiction film masterpiece of the same name. His other two books are  Finding Fela: My Strange Journey to Meet the AfroBeat King  – a memoir of a 1983 trip to Lagos, Nigeria, to film African musical legend Fela Kuti; his first book is  Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology.  

Dinello received an MFA in Film and Video from the University of Wisconsin and taught for 33 years at Columbia College Chicago. He was born and raised in Chicago and went to Fenwick HS in Oak Park where he was an All-State football player and winner of the Michigan Yost Award. He went to the University of Illinois, Champaign, on a football scholarship and, after rejecting a football career, he graduated from UI-Chicago with a degree in philosophy. 

Dan Dinello (was created by)
Custodial History
All 16mm film reels and DVDs were donated to CFA in 2022 by Dan Dinello. The films were previously housed in Dinello's home for the last 25 - 45 years.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives holds the copyright for the films in this collection. For additional materials published by others, any determination of copyright status for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.
Dan Dinello
Army Arrangement
Beyond the Door
Chicago Beat: Radio Active Love Edit Master
Chicago Halloween DUB
Night Custodian [Print 3]