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The Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab for the Promotion of Mental Health via Cinematic Arts presents:

Upcoming Events 

Co-sponsored by the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP)

Screening and Q&A: GET OUT ALIVE by Nikki Lynette

GET OUT ALIVE is a new autobiographical afrogoth musical that gives voice to a troubled artist’s recovery after a suicide attempt. Nikki’s offbeat and honest approach to sharing her mental health journey shows that even when life leads us to a bad place, we can always make it out alive.

Thursday, February 2, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


In January 2020, Chicago multimedia artist Nikki Lynette’s celebrated stage play Get Out Alivewhich was originally developed at AMTP at Northwestern University, debuted in the LookOut Series at Steppenwolf Theatre Company right before the pandemic shut the stages of the city down. Raw, electric and thrilling, this film adaptation is a celebration of Black life and culture and aims to deepen the conversation around mental health in the hope of substantial change. The film has been chosen for over a dozen film festival around the world, including BronzeLens in Atlanta (Winner-Best Actress), Pan African Film & Arts Festival (Los Angeles), Melbourne Lift-Off Film Festival, the African Diaspora International Film Festival (DC, NYC), and the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. Get Out Alive is an unapologetic celebration of life told by an intersectional team of Black, queer, trans, and women creatives. By defying established performance genres and curating a trauma-informed experience, the show hopes to create a better future for artists and audiences alike.

Join writer/performer Nikki Lynette, director Roger Ellis, and creative producer Brannon Bowers for a private screening of the film followed by an intimate Q&A co-moderated by Studio Lab Director, Dave Tolchinsky and Meghan Finn, LCSW.

Get Out Alive contains strong language, brief nudity, emotionally charged subject matter, and references to abuse, trauma, suicide, grief, and assault. 

Nikki Lynette (she/her) is a social impact artist. An unapologetic suicide survivor, she fuses mental health activism into her performances and visual art, creating a lane that is uniquely her own. This Chicago native’s self-produced tunes are frequently featured in popular shows on Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and more. Lynette’s success in music licensing has earned its own accolades, including a prominent feature in Billboard Magazine and speaking engagements at South By Southwest. Seeing her music used to tell stories on tv would soon lead Nikki to an interest in filmmaking. After a hiatus from releasing new music, Nikki Lynette returned to the public eye in 2016 with a confession: she’d secretly been battling mental health issues. She began writing articles about depression and suicide for prominent sites like BlackDoctor, Afropunk and AllHipHop. As the opening act for Pussy Riot’s first American tour Nikki workshopped the material that would soon become her musical about depression, GET OUT ALIVE. Nikki has made history as the first black female playwright to have a musical produced by American Music Theatre Project, the first AMTP work to debut at Steppenwolf, and the first woman developed by AMTP to present at NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals. The musical completed a successful return to the stage in August of 2022 with a 19 show run at The Den Theatre. Since adapting her musical about depression to film during the pandemic, GET OUT ALIVE has been invited into twelve film festivals and nominated for five film awards, of which she won three. A proud ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Nikki Lynette’s first TEDx Talk, hosted by Princeton University, was an opportunity for her to share how her punk culture roots aided her suicide recovery. In 2021 she entered the world of podcasting as the host of the popular iHeartRadio series “About a Girl.” Her mental health docuseries “Happy Songs About Unhappy Things” is currently in production. @nikkilynette

Roger Ellis (they/them) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University, where they serve as a member of the Music Theatre and MFA Acting faculty and co-curator of the Kelsey Pharr Jr. Speaker Series. As a stage director and filmmaker, their projects often explore identity, mental health advocacy, and the digital. Credits include: [re: CLICK] a devised digital performance in response to the play Click by Jacqueline Goldfinger and Get Out Alive (NAMT Festival, Steppenwolf LookOut Series, The Den Theatre). Ellis also directed the award-winning film adaptation of Get Out Alive. Ellis’ choreography for AntigoneNOW was presented at the 27th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre. Based in Chicago, Ellis has also worked in New York, Atlanta, Southern California, and across the United States with companies such as Sacramento Music Circus (CA), Paramount Theatre (IL), American Music Theatre Project (IL), Horizon Theatre Company (GA), Aurora Theatre (GA), Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (OK), Tuacahn Center for the Arts (UT), and San Diego Repertory (CA). Ellis holds an MFA in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University, a BA in Theatre Performance from Oklahoma City University, and is a designated teacher of The Lucid Body. Ellis is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (Associate), and the National Alliance of Acting Teachers. Ellis has taught song acting, psychophysical techniques, and movement for the stage at Marymount Manhattan College, the University of the Arts Summer Institute, and NYC’s Professional Performing Arts School. Ellis is the recipient of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers’ Earle Gister Fellowship (2019). Ellis has taught guest workshops at Boston University, Dell ‘Arte International School of Physical Theatre and has been a guest speaker at the School of Sound (UK), Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne, and the August Wilson Society Colloquium at Howard University. @rogerellis

Brannon Bowers (they/them) is a creative producer dedicated to new work and unexplored forms of performance, bridging genres, artistic mediums, and communities to make theatre accessible to all audiences. As Producing Director of the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University, they have developed over 40 new musicals, produced 6 shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe through an ongoing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and is currently in their seventh year of producing the annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. Brannon is also the creative producer of Get Out Alive, a new autobiographical afrogoth musical by Nikki Lynette, which they adapted into an independent film and has now been featured in a dozen film festivals around the world, winning three awards. Brannon is currently the co-chair of the selection committee for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival of New Musicals, has been a judge for the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, and has spoken on panels for the Edinburgh Fringe, NAMT, and the Segal Centre in Montreal, Canada. They have worked at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, held internships at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and is a proud graduate of Northwestern University.

Meghan Finn is a licensed clinical social worker, and owner of a small Evanston based group practice offering mental health care. Meghan is also the co-founder of Perennial Space, a collaborative therapeutic space for community engagement, creative healing, and change making. Meghan is a graduate of the University of Chicago, was a former employee in Northwestern Student Affairs and is currently Adjunct Faculty in the PPSL program. Meghan‘s therapeutic  specialties include crisis intervention, anxiety, identity exploration and development, and relationship concerns. 

RSVP required.

Discussion: Trauma Aesthetics

In hybrid format, join us for a discussion with Kate Erskine on the visual, cultural, and historical manifestations of trauma through film.

Thursday, February 9, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


The “flashback” belongs to both cinematic and clinical language of trauma, but which came first? Using Hiroshima mon Amour (1959), a cornerstone of French New Wave cinema, as a jumping-off point, we will discuss cultural idioms of distress, the historicizing of clinical diagnosis, and the relationship between visual culture and manifestations of trauma.

Kate Erskine’s research focuses on the politics and aesthetics of madness and trauma in contemporary television and digital culture. From 2021-22, she held a research assistantship with the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, and she is currently the research assistant for a Buffett Catalyst Grant Group. Erskine received her BA at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University and holds a masters from The London School of Economics and Political Science. She is currently based in Paris, where she is a fellow with the Paris Program in Critical Theory.

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Depictions of Depression 

In hybrid formal, Dr. Crystal T. Clark, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine will discuss various depictions of Depression in film and TV.

Thursday, February 16, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Crystal Clark’s clinical expertise is in mood and anxiety disorders. Her research and clinical interests focus on women’s mood and anxiety disorders across the reproductive life cycle inclduing during the menstrual cycle, fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, postpartum, and peri-/postmenopause. She also has subspecialty expertise in Bipolar Disorder. Dr. Clark’s passion for optimizing treatment in pregnancy for women with Bipolar Disorder has led to her current research focused on dosing lamotrigine (Lamictal), lithium, and atypical antipsychotics in pregnancy. She is also interested in optimizing dosing of psychiatric drug therapies in relation to exogenous use of hormones during fertility treatments and that related to contraception. She maintains an interest in trauma associated with traumatic birth and as it relates to the recurrence of mood and anxiety symptoms in pregnancy due to past trauma.

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Premiere of PPSL Class of 2022 Student Works 

Please join us as we feature a selection of short films and scripts created by our inaugural class of student fellows.

Thursday, February 23, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


The presentation will include the filmed and written works of Seunghee Chang, Lizzie Davis, Andrew Kline, Ginny Lee, Danielle Llevada, and Meghan Wells. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Learn more about the inaugural cohort and their projects: 

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Hollywood & Mind

A discussion with Journalist/Founder Cathy Applefeld Olson.

Thursday, March 2, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Entertainment journalist and Medill alum Cathy Applefeld Olson discusses what she’s learned  interviewing artists and executives in the Hollywood industries about mental health, and her new venture Hollywood & Mind, which is focused on leveraging the unrivaled influence of the entertainment community to elevate mental wellness.

Cathy Applefeld Olson is a veteran entertainment industry journalist, event producer and entrepreneur who is passionate about destigmatizing mental health. During the course of her career reporting for publications including Billboard, Forbes, Cynopsis and Multichannel News, she’s spoken with talent and executives about their mental health struggles, approaches to solutions and ways in which the industry can make an impact. These exchanges combined with conversations around her own kitchen table catalyzed her to launch Hollywood & Mind, a business that serves as an alliance to incubate ideas and foster intersectional learning, collaboration and solutions in an effort to leverage the power of entertainment to help diminish our mental health crisis. The venture, an evolution of Cathy’s Forbes column that features interviews with musicians, actors and other culture influencers, will hold its inaugural event in May at UTA in Los Angeles. 

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Depictions of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Anthropologist Rebecca Seligman will discuss a range of depictions of dissociative identity disorder in film/TV from a cross-cultural perspective.

Thursday, March 9, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Rebecca Seligman is a medical and psychological anthropologist who focuses on transcultural psychiatry, or the study of mental health in cross-cultural perspective. Her research interests involve critical examination of the social and political-economic forces that affect the experience and distribution of mental and physical illness, with an emphasis on the physical processes and mechanisms through which such forces become embodied. Seligman is interested in the relationships of stress, social disadvantage, and cultural models of selfhood to outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociation, somatization, diabetes, and depression. She is also exploring current neurobiological research concerning these phenomena. Her past research has explored the connection between mental health and religious participation in northeastern Brazil. Her book on this research was recently published. More about Rebecca Seligman at

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Acting and Mental Health

How do you direct actors regarding stories that involve mental health concerns? 

Thursday, April 6, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


In this lecture/demonstration, actress and Northwestern University assistant professor of instruction Detra Payne will lead student PPSL directors as they practice directing their actors.  The questions on the table: How do you direct actors regarding stories that involve mental health concerns? How does the director create a healthy and appropriate environment on set?  What particular demands do stories about mental health require? For example, how do we approach stories that involve bringing to life trauma?  How can actors work with the director to make sure the trauma they are conveying does not stay with them?   What kind of rituals can we create?  Ultimately, what will create the best, most compelling experience for actor, director, and audience?     

Professor Detra Payne (MFA, The New School for Drama) is an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Theatre. She was an assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas, Arlington in the Theatre Department before joining Northwestern. She taught cross-disciplinary courses in Women’s and Gender Studies at UTA, including Gender and the Performing Arts and Women in Theatre. Professor Payne has acted professionally in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Memphis, and in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Ms. Payne earned her MFA from the Actor’s Studio Drama School, a division of The New School, where she studied extensively and mastered The Method technique of acting formulated by Lee Strasberg. Her B.A. is from the University of Washington, and while there she was a member of the first class to be taught the Suzuki Method, created by world renowned theatre artist Tadashi Suzuki. Ms. Payne is trained in the Meisner Technique, created by Sanford Meisner, through the Joann Baron/DW Brown Studio in Los Angeles. Ms. Payne is a founding member of the Los Angeles based theatre company Sacred Fools. Ms. Payne has produced and directed a number of theatrical productions and has worked on films and in television not only as an actor but as a production and talent coordinator. Her written work has been published in Theatre Journal and Studies in Theatre and Performance. (More about Detra at

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Trauma and the Accursed: An Argument for the Human in the Clinic and in Art

With Leah Ra’chel Gipson and Richard Hoffman Reinhardt 

Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 7:00pm
Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Trauma-informed approaches are in vogue right now both in clinical and popular discourse. But what is trauma, and how is it transmitted? The concept of trauma has been reworked from earlier iterations. From religious notions of the accursed to psychiatric ideas of the pathological, cultural discourses aim to capture what is unwanted and transmitted through generations. This talk engages in psychoanalytic accounts of trauma which unsettle the idea of trauma as a problem to be solved or an experience with any singular representation. Rather, we insist on trauma as a category that, in some way, defines the human in various singular experiences. Both in the clinic and in artistic representation, then, we aim to promote a new appreciation for what the subject creates and attests to in traversing trauma. As cultural and artistic works, the films His House, La Llorona, La Teta Asustada (Milk of Sorrow) push us to deal with representations of trauma that might unsettle monolithic discourses about it.

Leah Ra’chel Gipson is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art Therapy and Counseling at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She teaches at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy Chicago, and is a board member for A Long Walk Home, an arts-based organization led by Black women and girls that empowers young people to end gender based violence. Leah is a registered and board-certified art therapist (ATR-BC), and a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in Illinois, with a Master of Theological Studies. As an interdisciplinary artist, Leah facilitates hyperlocal, community projects that engage Black culture and imagines critical “call and response” environments. Since 2009, Gipson’s participatory projects in the west side neighborhoods of Chicago address racial and gender inequity, and provide care and support for Black artists, activists and their communities. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Propeller Fund Award for The Rectory, an Austin neighborhood artist studio co-op. Her work has been featured at the South Side Community Art Center, Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Project Row Houses, and Nawat Fes.

Richard Hoffman Reinhardt is a PhD candidate in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan, where he studies theories of religion and psychoanalysis and early modern histories of Christian spirituality and mysticism, African diasporic religions, missionization, colonization, and enslavement. A Candidate Analyst of the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis (San Francisco), where he is also faculty, he works as a psychoanalytic clinician at Depth Counseling, a psychoanalytic group practice and behavioral health clinic in Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Circle of the Freudian School of Québec and of SPIIRAL (the Society for Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Interventions and Research after Lacan). He teaches on psychoanalysis in the MA in Art Therapy and Counseling Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy Chicago, and at the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis. He has a particular clinical and research interest in the psychoanalytic clinic of psychosis and extreme states.

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

In partnership with the Department of Anthropology and the Black Arts Consortium

Is there anything more to “blackness” in America than trauma?

A Conversation Between John L. Jackson, Dean, Annenberg School of Communication,University of Pennsylvania and AJ Christian, Assoc. Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University

Abbott Hall 203
710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Using pop cultural examples (including some from television, film, and social media), Jackson and Christian will have a wide-ranging conversation about what racialization means in contemporary American society.

John L. Jackson, Jr., is the Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Richard Perry University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent films include Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012), co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas, and Making Sweet Tea: The Lives and Loves of Southern Black Gay Men, co-directed with Nora Gross and co-executive produced with E. Patrick Johnson. More about Dean Jackson at

Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University. His research focuses on the political economy of legacy and new media, cultural studies and community-based research. He published his first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television, on New York University Press in 2018, and is currently writing his second book, Open Systems, which explores how to repair systemic harm and discrimination in media, technology and research. His scholarship has been published in numerous academic journals, including theInternational Journal of CommunicationTelevision & New MediaSocial Media & SocietyJournal of Cinema and Media Studies, among other journals and edited collections. More bout Dr. Christian at

RSVP required. Virtual link available to those outside the Chicagoland area. Please see RSVP order form for details.

Past Events 

Lecture/Discussion: Losing Yourself

By: Michelle Molina, Associate Professor, Religious Studies/History/Gender Studies, Northwestern University

Thursday, January 12, 2023 | 7:00pm

Despite our contemporary discourse about mental health that emphasizes “bounded” selves, we have to ask, are the boundaries of “self” firm for anyone? The past provides a playground of images, texts, and ideas with which we can begin to trouble contemporary storytelling about “the self” that emphasizes a singular self.  This lecture and conversation will draw upon images and ideas from the religious history of possession in the western world to show how questions about the “containment” of a self or the formation of “identity” have always been coupled with concern about the permeability of bodies/selves, or, perhaps more troubling, the desire to lose one’s self. In a discussion that will range from Augustine of Hippo’s god to Ingmar Bergman’s spider god, we will think about can be learned about the malleability of self/selves. A primary goal is to examine the way that  “religion” on screen points toward the problem of selves that are largely formed by others, sometimes other-worldly “others.” 

Movies referenced: Through A Glass Darkly; Jesus Christ Superstar; Saint Maud; and Annihilation.

J. Michelle Molina (PhD, University of Chicago, 2004) studies the Society of Jesus in the early modern period. She has explored Jesuit spirituality in an effort to understand how individuals – both elite and commoner — approached and experienced religious transformation. In particular, she has been interested in examining the impact of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises – a meditative retreat geared toward self-reform – on early modern global expansion. Molina’s book, To Overcome Oneself: The Jesuit Ethic and the Spirit of Global Expansion is published with University of California Press. The book examines the impact that this Jesuit program of radical self-reflexivity had on the formation of early modern selves in Europe and New Spain.  She offers a novel retelling of the emergence of the Western concept of a “modern self” by demonstrating how the struggle to forge and overcome selves was enmeshed in early modern Catholic missionary expansion. More about Dr. Molina at

An Evening with Melissa Villaseñor

In hybrid format, join us for a lively conversation with Melissa Villaseñor about the relationship between comedy and mental health.

Monday, November 7, 2022 | 7:00pm


Melissa Villaseñor is a stand-up comedian, actress, and impressionist who broke barriers by becoming the first-ever Latina cast member of Saturday Night Live. Melissa has voiced characters for Toy Story 4, Wreck It Ralph 2, Cartoon Network’s OK K.O.!, Fox’s American Dad and Family Guy. She has also filmed episodes for Comedy Central’s Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, HBO’s Crashing and Barry, Freeform’s Alone Together, and of course Saturday Night Live. Most recently, you can catch her as herself on Netflix’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and cat owner Karen in Netflix’s Hubie Halloween. 

Melissa made her start as a semifinalist on “America’s Got Talent”, and has continued to tour internationally – headlining stand-up comedy clubs and theaters for the past 10 years. 

Melissa has been named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 and Rolling Stone’s 50 Funniest People Right Now.

Her new book, Whoops…I’m Awesome: A Workbook with Activities, Art, and Stories for Embracing Your Wonderfully Awesome Self  is available on October 25th.

More at

Co-sponsored by EPICS and The Block Museum of Art

Screening and Q&A: THE YEAR BETWEEN a film by Alex Heller 

THE YEAR BETWEEN follows college sophomore Clemence Miller, who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and forced to return home to her sleepy Illinois suburb after suffering a mental breakdown.

Thursday, October 27, 2022 | 7:00pm
Run Time: 94 minutes

Alex Heller’s upcoming work includes her first feature film, “The Year Between,” a comedy about bipolar disorder. The film is produced by Level Forward and wrapped production in November 2021. In addition to being selected for the TFI Network, “The Year Between” was one of five projects selected for AT&T Presents: Untold Stories, the million-dollar pitch at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her awkward, comedic short films that celebrate/damn coming of age include Grizzlies, 24 and Pregnant, Never the Bride, Dose, and Forever House, and have played festivals such as Chicago International, Maryland, Edinburgh International, Newport Beach, and Cucalorus. Alex is a 2020 Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Fellow. In 2018, she was named by Vulture as one of their “Rising Filmmakers Every Cinephile Should Have on Their Radar.” In 2017, she was the national winner of StorySlam Oslo (the Norwegian Moth), and was a featured storyteller on this past season of Norway’s Got Talent, where she bombed to hell and was deservedly kicked off. Alex graduated from Northwestern University in 2015. She lived in Illinois for 27 years.

Alex is also an alumni of the RTVF department at Northwestern.  

An Evening with Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is a writer of remarkable talent and intellect. His books and essays explore the subjects of politics, culture and psychology with extraordinary humanity.

Thursday, October 13, 2022 | 7:00pm

Andrew Solomon‘s memoir, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was a worldwide bestseller – published in more than twenty languages. It is included in the London Times One Hundred Best Books of the Decade, and it is widely considered the definitive text on depression. Acclaimed as a revolutionary feat of journalism, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children & the Search for Identity, is an examination of the means by which families accommodate children with physical, mental and social disabilities and how these unusual situations can be invested with love. 

Andrew is an outspoken activist and philanthropist for many causes in LGBT rights, mental health, family, disability issues, education and the arts. He is the founder of the Solomon Research Fellowships in LGBT Studies at Yale University and is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. He holds a PhD degree in Psychology from Jesus College, Cambridge and is the former President of PEN American Center. In 2021, Andrew became a lecturer at Yale Medical School.

More about Andrew at

This event is co-sponsored by Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, Northwestern University Office of the Provost’s Hollister Lecture Fund, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, The Department of Psychology, and The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN).

RSVP required.

Co-sponsored by the Northwestern University Asian American Studies Program and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 

Asian Hate, Identity, & Trauma in a Pandemic: Asian American Short Films 

Curated by Huu T. Ly with respondents: Ji-Yeon Yuh, Director, Northwestern University Asian American Studies Program, and Dr. Qianhui Zhang, Clinical Psychologist, Northwestern University Counseling & Psychological Services  

Thursday, May 26, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

Through narrative and documentary, drama and horror, these six Asian American short films commemorate the intersection of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month by amplifying Asian American stories and filmmakers while highlighting mental health and social issues facing the Asian American community.

Huu Ly is a Film Programmer and Marketing Coordinator for The Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) and has been programming since 2009 for The Asian American Showcase at The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.  The Asian American Showcase has just completed its 25th iteration after a 2 year hiatus due to COVID and since its inception in 1995, has been the longest running film festival to exclusively showcase Asian American stories and filmmakers.  He has also programmed for The Houston Asian American and Pacific Islander Film Festival (HAAPIFF) and The Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF).  Huu has served as an Asian American community leader for the Chicago chapter of The National Association of Asian American Professionals as Vice President of Operations and as a board member of The Vietnamese Association of Illinois. Since FAAIM is an all-volunteer organization, Huu works full time as a Civil Engineer.

Qianhui Zhang, Ph.D., (she/her) is a licensed clinical psychologist and staff psychologist at the Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at the Northwestern University since 2016. At CAPS, she provides individual and group therapy, training, and community-based programming, and her work is grounded in trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and culturally responsive framework. Her clinical expertise includes varied forms of trauma, grief/loss, disordered eating and body image, depression/anxiety, and mental health stigma among college student population. She provides professional training and programming around the decolonization of mental health practices, race-related stress/trauma, intergenerational trauma, cross-cultural adjustment and immigration stress. Since joining CAPS, she serves as mental health liaison with the international student and Asian American student populations on the Evanston campus.

RSVP required.

In partnership with the MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage program…

FIRE THE HIRE: Fanning the Flames

By Eliza Bent, directed by Susan E. Bowen

Thursday, May 19, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

In 2014 Eliza Bent did a one-night performance, Fire the Hire, in which she dressed as her Boss doing stand-up about what a bad employee and bride-to-be she was. Eight years later, Bent revisits this pivotal performance, a portrait of her work and life and asks: Is Enlightenment possible?

Eliza Bent is a playwright and performer whose plays are indeed “bent,” meaning “different from normal; strongly inclined; changed from an originally straight condition.” Bentertainments include solo-ish works Toilet Fire (Time Out New York Critics’ Pick)Aloha, Aloha, or When I Was Queen; plays Indeed, friend!, The Hotel Colors (L Magazine’s best of 2013); adaptations The Beyonce, (Payne Award for Excellence), She of the Voice; and hybrid affairs (Real Talk / Kip Talk, Blue Wizard / Black Wizard (published by Sam French). Bent’s shows have been developed/ workshopped/ commissioned/ produced at the Abrons Arts Center, Clubbed Thumb, the Bushwick Starr, JACK, the New Ohio, the Atlantic Theatre, and New York Theatre Workshop’s Next Door Series. Residencies include MacDowell Colony, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace, New Georges, Target Margin, Casa Zia Lina, Pilot Balloon, and Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor.  More about Eliza at

A moderated Q&A will follow led by Studio Lab director, Dave Tolchinsky. 

All attendees must wear masks and present their vaccination card. RSVP required.

Looking at Listening: Films on Women and Experimental Music

Screening and panel discussion featuring filmmaker Sophia Feuer and the short documentary, Space Lady, created with Sundance Collab  

Friday, May 6, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art

Looking at Listening is a program of short documentary films organized around the themes of electronic music, archival retrieval, and audiovisual experimentation. These four films extend the inquiries into the legacy of women in electronic music beyond the figures most often highlighted while experimenting with the audiovisual presentation of archival material, and proposing new ways of relating the history of music and musical practice.

The screenings will include a live performance by electronic musician Natalie Chami (TALsounds) followed by a panel discussion with Chami and filmmakers Emily Eddy and Sophia Feuer, moderated by guest curator and NU Screen Cultures Ph.D. candidate Jennifer Smart.

Presented with support from MA in Sound Arts and Industries at Northwestern University.

Space Lady (Sophia Feuer, US, 2020, 17 minutes) recovers the life and music of Susan Dietrich Schneider aka the Space Lady, a former street performer who has been belatedly recognized for her contributions to the history of electronic music. Focusing on her present day life in Colorado the film provides a blunt and poignant look into the reality of artistic life.

Feuer’s film discusses how film can be a creative and therapeutic medium for processing unresolved issues related to trauma.

More event info and RSVP

Entertaining Health: The Power of TV Storytelling

By Kate Folb

Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

In this presentation Kate Folb, Director of Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), will share how the organization works with the entertainment industry to ensure accuracy in depictions of health, safety and security. Clips of popular shows with which HH&S has consulted will be shown and discussed.  Research on the impact of these storylines will also be explored.

Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a program of the Norman Lear Center at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, was created in 2001 to improve the quality and quantity of health storylines in TV, film and digital media. In recent years, the program has expanded its scope to include issues related to health, safety and security. HH&S provides television writers with free, on-demand access to subject-matter experts to inform and shape storylines as they are being created. Through its existing “hotline,” HH&S responds to hundreds of inquiries from content creators annually. The program is supported by a diverse range of philanthropic and public-sector funders, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The California Health Care Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the John Pritzker Family Fund and the SCAN Foundation.

Kate Langrall Folb, M.Ed., is director of Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), the flagship program of the University of Southern California Annenberg School Norman Lear Center, and a veteran for more than 20 years in the entertainment education field. At HH&S, she leads a team of public health and media professionals to connect entertainment content creators with experts in health, medicine, science, safety and security to ensure accuracy in their depictions. Her team also conducts research on the impact of TV storylines on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. After an early career in television and music production, Kate joined the Scott Newman Foundation as director of special projects where she worked with top TV shows and films on portrayals of alcohol and other substance abuse, developed a media literacy program for middle and high school students and produced the foundation’s annual public service announcements (PSAs). Later, she served as director of The Media Project, a partnership of Advocates for Youth and the Kaiser Family Foundation, working with entertainment on storylines about HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy prevention, condom use and sex education. She also produced the annual SHINE Awards for sexual health in entertainment and developed a cutting-edge media campaign for Viacom to normalize condom use and encourage healthy relationships. From 2001-2012 Kate led Nightingale Entertainment, an independent consulting firm garnering celebrity involvement, producing PSAs and coordinating national media events for a variety of health-related causes. She joined Hollywood, Health & Society in July of 2012. Kate speaks fluent Spanish, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, and a master’s degree in education from UCLA.

Panel Discussion: Media Production Cultures and Mental Health

With Nava Mau, Sowjanya Kudva, & Debra Tolchinsky

Thursday, April 14, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

Panelists, Nava Mau and Sowjanya Kudva will discuss their experiences with film and television production through the lens of mental health. Moderated by Debra K. Tolchinsky, the panel will explore the stakes of mental health and well-being of production cultures within a global media industry and university production environments.

Nava Mau is an award-winning filmmaker, actress, and cultural worker. Nava wrote, produced, directed, and starred in “Waking Hour,” a short film that screened in festivals around the world. She was selected as a Production Fellow for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure,” and worked as a producer on the short film “Work,” which premiered at Sundance. She appeared next as a series regular in the HBO Max series “Generation.” For 8 years, Nava worked in the fields of healing justice and culture change with community-based service providers, student organizations, and survivors of violence.

Sowjanya Kudva, (they/them) has been working in video production for two decades across the United States. They write, produce, direct, shoot, and/or edit for corporate clients, non­profits, independent filmmakers, and their own passion projects. Having spent a couple years mentoring youth in San Francisco, they realized a deep passion for teaching and decided to become a professor. After finishing an MFA in Film & Media Arts at Temple University, they now work as an Assistant Professor in Cinema & Television Arts within the School of Communication at Elon University. Their teaching and research interests include production studies, media literacy, cultural studies, and screen- and comics writing pedagogy. They earned their BFA in Filmmaking at UNC School of the Arts. 

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-TV-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.

Discussion: Cultural constructions of dissociation and what they say about self, agency and desire

With Rebecca Seligman, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Global Health

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

Cross-cultural research reveals that dissociative experiences are ubiquitous around the world and may take both pathological and non-pathological forms. In the Euro-American context, dissociation is most commonly understood in pathological terms as a form of disordered experience.  At the same time, depictions of dissociative experiences (especially Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly MPD) abound in film and television—from Psycho and The Three Faces of Eve, to Primal Fear, Fight Club, and Split, to name just a few.  What makes dissociation so good to story with? Why has it enjoyed such continuous representation in popular narratives across time? We’ll examine different kinds of dissociative experiences and different models for understanding dissociation, and discuss what we can learn about cultural norms, values and desires—especially those related to selfhood, volition, and agency–by examining depictions of dissociation in cinematic narratives. More about Professor Seligman at

Lecture: Depictions of Women with Bipolar Disorder in Film and TV

By Dr. Crystal T. Clark, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine 

Thursday, Feb 17, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.


Dr. Clark will be using the films Touched with Fire and Modern Love, as well as the TV shows Euphoria and Homeland to explore depictions of women with bipolar disorder.

Crystal Clark’s clinical expertise is in mood and anxiety disorders. Her research and clinical interests focus on women’s mood and anxiety disorders across the reproductive life cycle inclduing during the menstrual cycle, fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, postpartum, and peri-/postmenopause. She also has subspecialty expertise in Bipolar Disorder. Dr. Clark’s passion for optimizing treatment in pregnancy for women with Bipolar Disorder has led to her current research focused on dosing lamotrigine (Lamictal), lithium, and atypical antipsychotics in pregnancy. She is also interested in optimizing dosing of psychiatric drug therapies in relation to exogenous use of hormones during fertility treatments and that related to contraception. She maintains an interest in trauma associated with traumatic birth and as it relates to the recurrence of mood and anxiety symptoms in pregnancy due to past trauma.

In partnership with EPICS and the MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage program…

Film Screening + in-person filmmaker Q&A:  VIOLET

Written and directed by Justine Bateman

Thursday, Feb 3, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

Filmmaker and author Justine Bateman will screen her directorial feature film debut, VIOLET, and discuss the film in-person during a post-screening conversation hosted by Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab director Dave Tolchinsky.  Set in Hollywood, the film follows Violet (Olivia Munn) who, after realizing she’s spent years allowing fear to drive every decision she makes, learns she must silence her relentlessly negative inner thoughts (voiced by Justin Theroux) in order to regain control over her life. After premieres at SXSW and TIFF, VIOLET received rave reviews and is “Certified Fresh” with an 82% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Justine Bateman has an impressive decades-long resume in film and TV that includes a Golden Globe nomination and two Emmy nominations. Prior to VIOLET, she wrote and directed two award-winning and festival-selected shorts, FIVE MINUTES and PUSH. She has also authored two best-selling books, FAME and FACE, which both draw on powerful personal insights from her experience in the entertainment industry.

In partnership with the MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage program…

Performance & Discussion: Trauma-Informed Storytelling

Where’s the Rest of Me? by David E. Tolchinsky and Ann, Fran, and Mary Ann by Erin Courtney 

Thursday, Jan 27, 2022 | 7:30 p.m.

The short play WHERE’S THE REST OF ME? by David E. Tolchinsky. A screenwriter wrestles with his relationship to Spalding Gray, his psychiatrist father and the classic movie, King’s Row. More about David at

ANN, FRAN, AND MARY ANN by Erin Courtney. A deeply reflective, reflecting, refracting play about trauma, brain science, God, patterns, and the way they live in our bodies, our minds, and acts of love. More about Erin at

Both readings will be directed/produced by Susan E. Bowen, who will lead a moderated discussion with the authors after the readings.

Susan E. Bowen is a Chicago-based director who has worked with Jackalope Theatre, About Face, Lookingglass, Route 66, A Red Orchid, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Broken Nose Theatre, and Piven Theatre Workshop, among others. She received her MFA in directing from Northwestern, where she directed Mark Schultz’s EVERYTHING WILL BE DIFFERENT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HELEN OF TROY and a modern riff on Félix Lope de Vega’s Spanish Golden Age play, FUENTE OVEJUNA, which she co-adapted with playwright Kori Alston. Other projects include the world premiere of STIX by Molly Pease at the American Theatre of Actors in New York and a reading of THREE ANTARCTICAS by Kristin Idaszak at the Goodman Theatre. Susan will direct a workshop of NOBODY DIES IN THIS PLAY by Skyler Tarnas in February.

Discussion: Understanding OCD and its Depictions 

With Psychoanalyst Dr. Suzanne Rosenfeld

Thursday, Jan 20, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

Using the film As Good As It Gets (directed by James L. Brooks and co-written by Brooks and Mark Andrus) as a starting point, psychoanalyst Suzanne Rosenfeld will discuss the symptomology of OCD from a variety of perspectives. The goal is for writers and filmmakers to understand how characters who suffer from OCD might manifest that psychological condition and how it might affect their lives.  Questions on the table might include: Is OCD a “disorder” or another example of neurodiversity? Does it always present the same? Is it associated with other conditions? How does it evolve? Can it be “cured”? What are pitfalls for writers to avoid when conceptualizing their characters?  Moderated by Studio Lab director David Tolchinsky.

Dr. Suzanne Rosenfeld is a faculty member at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute and a member of a working group at the Paris Psychoanalytical Society.  In addition to international psychoanalysis, she has been interested in psychosomatics throughout her career as a medical doctor, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. In recent years she trained with Christopher Bollas and was invited as guest auditor at the Pierre Marty Institute for Psychosomatics-Paris.   Her other research interests include free association, psychoanalytical assessment, psychoanalysis, art and cinema.  She has enjoyed teaching and created a course for students at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis entitled “The Phenomenology of the First Encounter:  How to help a person enter a psychoanalysis with oneself.” She has also prepared talks with non clinicians, including for artists on “Free Association and Creativity” at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.  She is a proud member of the Advisory Board of the Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab for the Promotion and Creation of Mental Health through Cinematic Arts.

Lecture: Do you really have a self? A story about possession

By: Michelle Molina, Associate Professor, Religious Studies/History/Gender Studies, Northwestern University 

Thursday, Jan 6, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

The past provides a playground of images, texts, and ideas that can both inform and trouble contemporary storytelling about mental health and mental illness.  This lecture will people your mind with images and ideas from the religious history of possession in the western world to show how its questions about the permeability of bodies and selves were key to the emergence of the medicalized sense of “self” we have today.  We will look at images from the past, but also film clips (the melancholy Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, or the spider god in Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly) to think about how “religion” on screen points toward the problem of selves that are largely formed by others, sometimes other-worldly “others.” Despite our contemporary discourse that emphasizes “bounded” selves, we have to ask, are the boundaries of “self” firm for anyone? More about Professor Molina at