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Debra Tolchinsky
Associate Professor
Email:
debtolchinsky@northwestern.edu
Department(s):
Radio/Television/Film

Debra Tolchinsky

Debra Tolchinsky is a documentary director/producer, a multimedia artist, a curator, and an associate professor at Northwestern University. Debra was the founding director of Northwestern’s MFA in documentary media and recently served as the Department of Radio/Television/Film’s associate chair. Debra received an AB from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her films (Saint Catherine’s Wedding Ring, Lucky, Dolly, Fast Talk) have been screened nationally and internationally at venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center, The Chicago International Film Festival, FIPADOC, The Italy Innocence Project, and the Supreme Court Institute. In 2017, Debra garnered an Alice B. Kaplan Institute for the Humanities Fellowship; in 2018, she won a Kartemquin Partner Program Sage Fund grant. She has been habitually included on NewCity’s Film 50: Chicago’s Screen Gems. The New York Times recently released her short documentary, Contaminated Memories, via Op-Docs. Presently, Debra is working on a four-part episodic documentary True Memories and Other Falsehoods in association with Kartemquin Films.

Education

MFAPainting, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BAFilm/Video Production, USC School of Cinema-Television

Recent Awards and Honors

2017Invited speaker at Chicago Humanities Festival/17: Belief regarding True Memories and Other Falsehoods. In conversation with WBEZ Film commentator, Milos Stehlik.

No. 7 on New City’s Film 50 2017 Chicago’s Screen Gems.

Recipient of a year long Alice B. Kaplan Institute for the Humanities Fellowship for her (in process) documentary feature, True Memories and Other Falsehoods.

2015No. 8 on New City’s Film 50 2015 Chicago’s Screen Gems.
2013Contemporary Art Council grant to co-curate “The Presence of Absence”, Hairpin Art Center, Chicago, IL. Described by the Chicago Tribune as “a remarkable group exhibition” and by Chicago magazine as “One of the best art gallery shows in Chicago right now”

Selected, Associated Student Government’s Faculty Honor Roll

2012Best Documentary Feature Award for Fast Talk, Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Chagrin, OH.

Best Documentary Award for Fast Talk, Iowa Film Festival, June 25, 2012, Quad Cities, IA.

Nomination Winter Film Award for Fast Talk, Documentary Competition, Winter Film Award Festival, February 10- 12, 2012, New York, NY.

2011Platinum Reel Award for Fast Talk, Documentary Film Competition, Nevada Film Festival, December 3, 2011, Las Vegas, Nev.

Best Documentary Award for Fast Talk, LA Femme International Film Festival, October 13-16, 2011, Los Angeles, CA.

Award of Excellence for Fast Talk, The Indie Fest, La Jolla, CA.

Award of Merit for Fast Talk (editing), The Indie Fest, La Jolla, CA.

Award of Merit given to Fast Talk for excellent creative and technical artistry, Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood.

Award of Merit given to Fast Talk for exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, The Accolade Competition, La Jolla, CA.

2010Clarence Simon Award for Teaching and Mentoring
2009Co-Curator, The Horror Show, Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, New York City (www.dorsky.org), chosen as a “Voice Choice for Art” by The Village Voice
2008Award of Excellence, exhibit catalogue for “The Horror Show,” (Tolchinsky/Tolchinsky) and chosen for inclusion in the UCDA Design Show.

Top Award of Artistic Merit for Smoke and Mirrors I, video installation, University Film and Video Conference, new media exhibit, “Ideas in Mediation.”

2007Grant, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts

Grant, The Center for Global Culture and Communication

2006Grant, The Center for Global Culture and Communication

Nominee, Program for New Media Artists, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation

2004Nominee, The Richard Driehaus Foundation’s Individual Artist Award
2003Nominee, Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Awards

Courses

RTVF 392Documentary Production
RTVF 394Experimental Film and Video Production
RTVF 379Horror Production
RTVF 379Finishing
RTVF 475Introduction to Graduate Production
RTVF 551Documentary Techniques
RTVF 555Doc Thesis II