Back in 1998 I wrote a Reader profile of Columbia College professor Dan Dinello, whose latest film, Shock Asylum, was then screening in the Chicago Short Comedy Video and Film Festival. Nowadays Shock Asylum is most notable for being the big-screen debut of Stephen Colbert, who'd been collaborating on various TV projects with Dan's older brother, Paul Dinello. But tonight the spotlight is on Dan as he retires from Columbia after 33 years. Dan Dinello RetireSpective: 33 Years in 45 Minutes collects excerpts from not only Shock Asylum but the western parody Wheels of Fury (1998), the "new wave/disco melodrama" Rock Lobster (1979), the locally oriented documentaries Chicago Halloween (1988) and Pink Triangles Rising (1983), the 1986 music video Dinello directed for Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and episodes from the Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy, which starred Colbert, Paul Dinello, and their frequent writing and performing partner Amy Sedaris.
As Dinello explained in a recent e-mail, he's been making films for 40 years now, inspired initially by Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising (1963) and his own opposition to President Nixon and the war in Vietnam. "The compilation was cut by my son Bryan, who is an editor on The Colbert Report," writes Dinello. "It's a career-spanning (1979-2011), diverse greatest hits show" whose clips "reflect my passion for music, politics, horror, and comedy." Once Dinello hangs up his spurs at Columbia, he plans to devote himself to finishing a horror novel, promoting his new memoir about working with Kuti, and campaigning to reelect Barack Obama.
Dan Dinello Retirespective takes place tonight at 6 PM at Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, eighth floor. Admission is free.