Best new local production (drama)

Hogtown

Last year we created the category Best Chicago Story in hope that it would become a perennial, and that every year we could single out the locally produced short or feature that best captured the life of the city. This year we didn't even need that category, because the best Chicago story was also the best locally produced drama, period. Daniel Nearing’s Hogtown takes place in 1919, as the city and the nation are trying to absorb the domestic aftershocks of World War I, and culminates in the eight-day race riot that erupted on the south side that July, leaving 38 people dead. The movies central character is a token black cop (Herman Wilkins) who's trying to track down a missing white millionaire, and the secret to this mystery is rooted in racial tensions that persist to this day. The filmmaking is so poetical that Nearing has no problem conjuring up a long-gone Chicago, which may be why he didn’t worry about location shots showing Millennium Park and the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza. These anachronisms register less as mistakes than as powerful symbols of a cultural continuum.