Marian Miner Cook

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday, April 02, 2018 - Evening Program
The Politics of Movie and TV Endings: A Screenwriter’s Perspective
David E. Tolchinsky P'20

From It’s a Wonderful Life to Erin Brockovich to Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding episode to Moonlight to Wonder Woman: What does the ending of a movie or television show tell you about the politics of the storyteller, the intended audience, or the time period in which it was produced? Using diverse movie and television clips, screenwriter and Northwestern University department of radio-tv-film chairman David Tolchinsky P'20 will discuss how endings change not just based on the needs of a story, but also the prevailing zeitgeist. He will also discuss contemporary trends in endings and how to interpret their deeper meanings. Finally, he will reflect on the importance for authors to protect what they believe to be the right ending, even if unpopular.


David E. Tolchinsky P'20 is a screenwriter/playwright/director and the chair of Northwestern University's Department of Radio-TV-Film and Founder/Director of Northwestern's MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage.

Tolchinsky's work often centers on teen subcultures, psychological horror, mental illness, and the figure of the psychiatrist. Increasingly, he’s been interested in health and illness in the modern world, especially illnesses that are not easily explainable. He has been commissioned by such studios as Touchstone/Disney, MGM, Ivan Reitman's Montecito Pictures, USA Networks, among others, to write feature screenplays. 

He was  the recipient of a 2014 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Literature (Poetry, Prose, Scriptworks) and was voted best director for the New York production of his play, an adaptation of his essay, Where's the Rest of Me? Recently, he co-curated Sick by Seven (seven plays/films about mental illness) at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, wrote and co-produced The Coming of Age, which received a Silver Medal from the Los Angeles Film Review, and he was number 7 on New City's Film 50 2017: Chicago Screen Gems. Currently, he is directing a psychological thriller, Cassandra, about the memory recovery movement in the '90s, and is working on a play about the rogue 1940’s psychologist Wilhelm Reich.  

Tolchinsky received his undergraduate degree from Yale College and an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.   

Photo credit: Joe Mazza/

View Video: YouTube with David Tolchinsky P'20

Food for Thought: Podcast with David Tolchinsky