Donna Deitch segued from documentary filmmaker to producing and directing Desert Hearts, the landmark lesbian love story and hit of the 1986 Sundance, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals.
Shortly after seeing the film, Oprah Winfrey hired Donna to direct the Emmy nominated 4 hour mini series The Women of Brewster Place. This was the beginning of an unanticipated 21 years and counting directing in television—ranging from network pilots to HBO’s Prison Stories, Women on the Inside; ABC’s sexual harassment themed Sexual Advances, Showtime’s gay/lesbian themed Common Ground then holocaust themed Devil’s Arithmetic for which she won an Emmy.
She has directed the best of one hour television drama including numerous episodes of NYPD Blue, ER, Heroes, Law and Order: SVU, Private Practice,Gray’s Anatomy, Judging Amy and others.
Donna occasionally goes back to her documentary roots as she did with Angel On My Shoulder about her best friend actress Gwen Welles’ (Nashville) experience with dying which won the Gold Hugo at The Chicago Film Festival. And she shoots footage anywhere in the world she gets to go with Equality Now to document their essential work. Hopefully she’ll edit it soon. And get it up on their website.
Donna was co-founder in 1975 of The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) still housed in the old Venice jail. She made the documentary The Great Wall of Los Angeles about the painting of the longest mural in the world which tells one story of SPARC’s community work.
She was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley where she received her political education on the battlefields of People’s Park and Sproul Plaza. She was a graduate student at the UCLA Film School and received her MA in 1975 for her thesis film Woman to Woman: A Documentary about Hookers, Housewives and Other Mothers.
She’s currently working on a sequel to Desert Hearts; plus a film from her partner Terri Jentz’ true crime memoir Strange Piece of Paradise and developing a TV series to end all war.
Follow Donna on Twitter @DesertHearts.