Presented by Institutional Quality Productions, Cassandra was named Best Short at Genreblast Film Festival, Best Thriller Short at the Women in Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Film at the Oxford International Short Film Festival
Director, screenwriter, composer, and Northwestern University professor David E. Tolchinsky remembers reading an article in The New Yorker about psychiatrists in Chicago who had reinterpreted their patients’ dreams as memories of abuse. These psychiatrists were part of a short-lived movement called “memory recovery therapy.” The psychiatrists intentionally “implanted” memories of abuse in their patients. Meanwhile, the “recovered memories” caused trauma, raised questions and made shambles of the patients’ relationships with the accused family members and/or friends. “Recovered memories therapy” was replaced by “false memory syndrome,” and the destruction of the careers of the psychiatrists involved.
Years later, as a screenwriter, Tolchinsky pondered: what if one of the psychiatrists had stumbled upon actual abuse (and no doubt some of the memory recovery psychiatrists did just that), but disavowed that abuse, for fear of being sued or imprisoned? And what if there was something uncanny about the abuser. . . According to mythology, the half-goddess Cassandra was able to predict the future, but since she rejected Apollo’s advances, she was cursed never to be believed. Cassandra could speak to birds, which were seen as the link between humans and the gods. For Tolchinsky, Cassandra and birds are symbols of people standing up for themselves against sexual abusers but (in the case of Cassandra) are often not believed and silenced.
After a successful international festival run where it picked up 10 awards including best thriller short, best horror film, and best directing, on Jan. 19, Cassandra has just premiered on Apple TV in 4K, Google Play, and Amazon Prime, available for rent or purchase. “Maybe Cassandra will stir fear or rage, and dreams or memories . . . the past is always in flux. And sometimes the past can feel more present than the present itself,” says Tolchinsky. Tolchinsky’s next project is a gender-switching thriller adaptation of Orpheus, now in development with Institutional Quality Productions.
Tolchinsky is the founder and co-director of Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for the Screen+Stage program; alumni include Sarah Gubbins (writer of Shirley and co-creator of I Love Dick), Jenny Hagel (of Late Night with Seth Meyers), Jen Spyra (of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert), and Pultizer-prize finalist Will Arbery, and many other stars of TV/film/stage.
Cassandra is an Institutional Quality Productions presentation. Written/directed/scored/sound designed by David E. Tolchinsky, produced by Madison Jones, starring Sara Bues, Ruby Dalton, and John Fenner Mays.
A psychological thriller written, directed, scored, and sound designed by David E. Tolchinsky. An Institutional Quality Productions presentation. Winner of Best Thriller Short and Best Editing at Women in Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Film at Oxford International Short Film Festival. Now available for purchase on Apple TV in 4K and also streaming on Alter:
- YouTube: https://youtu.be/Ptdm6sr1d_0
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WatchALTER/videos/239615124041238/
- Q&A: https://watchalter.com/2020/05/david-e-tolchinsky-qa/