Donna Deitch is a Director and Producer with more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry. Her landmark lesbian love story DESERT HEARTS (1986) was a hit at the Telluride, Toronto and Sundance film festivals. In 2017 it became part of the Criterion Collection. DESERT HEARTS made an impression on Oprah Winfrey, too, and she subsequently hired Deitch to direct her first TV movie, the Emmy-nominated ABC miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. Many other TV directing credits followed, including five network pilots and numerous cable and network films such as HBO’s Prison Stories: Women on the Inside; ABC’s sexual harassment-themed Sexual Advances; and Showtime’s gay/lesbian-themed Common Ground and the Holocaust-themed The Devil’s Arithmetic, for which Deitch received an Outstanding Directing Emmy Award.
She has also directed many hours of episodic television drama including numerous episodes of NYPD Blue, ER, Heroes, Law and Order: SVU, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, Judging Amy and A Gifted Man, among others.
Deitch began her career as a painter and still photographer, winning first place in a photo contest judged by renowned photographer Diane Arbus. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, she received her political education on the battlefields of People’s Park and Sproul Plaza. She received an M.F.A. for her thesis film, Woman to Woman: A Documentary about Hookers, Housewives and Other Mothers, at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
Deitch occasionally goes back to her documentary roots, as she did with her 1998 film Angel on My Shoulder, which chronicled the death of her best friend, actress Gwen Welles (NASHVILLE) from cancer. Angel on My Shoulder toured the festival circuit and won the Chicago International Film Festival’s Gold Hugo award.
She is currently working on a number of feature film projects including Desert Hearts: The Sequel; The Catcher, based on Peter Wyden book Stella: One Woman’s True Tale of Evil, Betrayal, and Survival in Hitler’s Germany, which chronicled the true story of a beautiful young Jewish woman who delivered Jews to the Gestapo in order to save her own life; and an adaptation of Terri Jentz’ award-winning true-crime memoir Strange Piece of Paradise, in which a Yale student returns to the American West to investigate a famous crime never solved by local police: an attempted ax murder against her. Perhaps most importantly, Deitch is developing a TV series to end all war.
Deitch is a co-founder of SPARC: The Social and Public Art Resource Center; a UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television Executive Board Member; and a Donor Direct Action steering committee member. She originated and is the trustee of the first two full-ride scholarships for a woman graduate directing student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Directors Guild of Canada and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.