Film, video professor retires after 33 years

By Lisa Schulz

Traditional retirements are often sad occasions with teary send-off speeches. At Columbia, however, they involve a review of 33 years of accomplishments in a 45-minute film of award-winning clips ranging from 1970s documentaries to comedy sketches starring Stephen Colbert.

Dan Dinello, professor in the Film & Video Department, and a distinguished scholar, journalist and author, showcased his work March 22 for faculty, staff, students, friends, family and the public in “RetireSpective: 33 Years in 45 Minutes” at Film Row Cinema in the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

“If you removed someone like Dan Dinello from our department, you can feel an absence of a certain voice and a certain sensibility,” said Ted Hardin, an associate professor in the Film & Video Department who first met Dinello 14 years ago at an Arizona film festival. “It’s a mixture of his sense of humor and sense of exploration, physical comedy, other kinds of peculiar stories and points of view and characters.”

Hardin said Dinello introduced courses into the Film & Video Department’s curriculum, such as “Horror Cinema,” “Music and Video,” “Zombies in Sci-Fi Cinema” and “Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology,” which were instantly filled with students. Dinello also previously served as the chair of the Film & Video Department, a position in which courage is needed to ask hard questions, Hardin said.

Despite his responsibilities, Dinello also has a “wicked sense of humor,” Hardin said. His son, Bryan Dinello, an editor on “The Colbert Report,” edited his retirement reel. The film session began with a slideshow containing a hyperbole agenda with duties such as “Discuss the genesis of Dan’s genius.”

He had numerous projects in TV, film and writing. He directed two seasons of

Comedy Central’s “Strangers With Candy,” starring Colbert, Amy Sedaris and his nephew Paul Dinello. He said some of his students were fans of the show and gave him helpful feedback.

“When you see a student who goes out in the world and makes an impact, obviously you have a vicarious thrill,” Dinello said. “The same way as when you see Stephen Colbert, who I always knew to be a hilarious comedian before anyone else did.”

Dinello said he was grateful to Columbia for allowing him to pursue his interest in music, politics, and social criticism.

Matt Storc, senior film & video major, said Dinello’s wideranging experience was evident in his horror film course.

“He’s probably my favorite teacher that I had here,” Storc said. “He just has a way of communicating ideas and teaching the class in a very conversational manner. It’s really easy to learn. It’s fun, too. He’s passionate about it, so it makes the class interesting . . . He’s not just teaching class, he works in the industry and is


Dinello advised students to always respect people and be willing to compromise but also to be persistent and question authority.

Upon retirement, he plans to become a full-time writer. He said he’s also focused on learning the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” on the piano and pursuing his love of music through instruments, an opportunity he didn’t have before.

“This retirement, for him, is not at all going to slow him down,” Hardin said. “He has several book projects. I hope he keeps showing these kinds of films. He may make something again, another film. It’s a change but not an ending.”