Donna Deitch

Last updated
Donna Deitch
Born (1945-06-08) June 8, 1945 (age 77)
Occupation(s)Director, producer, writer
Years active1975-present
Known for Desert Hearts

Donna Deitch (born June 8, 1945, San Francisco, California) is an American film and television director, producer, and writer best known for her 1985 film Desert Hearts . The movie was the first feature film to depict a lesbian love story in a generally mainstream vein, with positive and respectful themes. [1] [2]



Donna Deitch segued from award-winning documentary filmmaker to producing and directing Desert Hearts, the landmark hit of the 1985 Telluride and Toronto International film festivals, and the 1986 Sundance Film Festival. The film was picked up for worldwide distribution by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. Shortly after seeing the film, Oprah Winfrey hired Deitch to direct the Emmy-nominated four-hour miniseries The Women of Brewster Place.

Deitch directed four pilots after the success of Brewster Place, three of which were picked up for series, including Second Noah. She has directed numerous episodes of one-hour dramas including NYPD Blue , ER , Murder One , Law and Order: SVU , EZ Streets , The Visitor , Dragnet , Crossing Jordan , Heroes , Private Practice , and others. She directed the pilot episode of The N's, South of Nowhere .

She directed Prison Stories: Women on the Inside for HBO; Showtime's The Devil's Arithmetic starring Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy, and Common Ground , written by Terrence McNally, Paula Vogel, and Harvey Fierstein (also for Showtime).

Deitch directed, photographed, and edited Angel On My Shoulder, a feature-length documentary about the experience of her best friend, actress Gwen Welles ( Nashville ), dying of cancer. The film won the Gold Hugo for Best Documentary at the 1998 Chicago International Film Festival. [3]

In a 2008 interview, she said she was working on obtaining financing for "Blonde Ghost", a recently completed screenplay adapted from Stella, the 1992 non-fiction book by Peter Wyden about Stella Goldschlag, which takes place in Berlin during World War II. [4] [5] That same year, Deitch said that she was writing a sequel to Desert Hearts which would be set "in NYC in the late 60s". [6]

Personal life

Deitch is openly lesbian. [7] Her partner is writer Terri Jentz. [8]



1975Woman to WomanYesYesYesYesDocumentary
1977The Great Wall of Los AngelesYesDocumentary short
1985 Desert Hearts YesYesCameo appearance: Hungarian Gambler
Winner: Special Jury Prize – Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival, 1986 [9]
1994 Criminal Passion Yes
1998Angel on My ShoulderYesYesYesYesYesDocumentary


1989 The Women of Brewster Place Miniseries
1990 WIOU 1 episode
1991 Prison Stories: Women on the Inside TV film. Segment "1"
1991 Veronica Clare 1 episode
1992Sexual AdvancesTV Film
1994A Change of Place TV Film
1994Robin's Hoods2 episodes
1995 ER 2 episodes
1995-1997 Murder One 5 episodes
1995-2003 NYPD Blue 13 episodes
1996 Second Noah 1 episode
1996 Moloney 1 episode
1997Murder One: Diary of a Serial KillerMiniseries (final 6 episodes of Murder One )
1997 EZ Streets 1 episode
1997Total Security1 episode
1997 The Visitor 1 episode
1997 Dellaventura 1 episode
1998 Nothing Sacred 1 episode
1998C-16: FBI1 episode
1999 The Devil's Arithmetic TV Film
2000 Common Ground TV Film
2000-2001 The $treet 2 episodes
2001-2007 Crossing Jordan 9 episodes
2002-2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 3 episodes
2003 Judging Amy 1 episode
2003 Dragnet 1 episode
2004 Wild Card 1 episode
2005 South of Nowhere 2 episodes
2006 Bones 1 episode
2006 Heroes 1 episode
2007 Eureka 1 episode
2009-2010 Private Practice 4 episodes
2010 Grey's Anatomy 1 episode
2010 Army Wives 1 episode
2011 Off the Map 1 episode
2011 A Gifted Man 1 episode
2013 The Glades 1 episode
2016 Greenleaf 1 episode


1969Several FriendsShort film
1985 Desert Hearts Hungarian GamblerCameo appearance


1986 Desert Hearts Special Jury Prize – DramaticSundance Film Festival Won
1986 Desert Hearts Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic • Sundance Film Festival Nominated
1996 NYPD Blue , episode "These Old Bones" Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic SeriesDirectors Guild of America Nominated
1998Angel on My ShoulderGold Hugo – Best Documentary • Chicago International Film Festival Won
2000 The Devil's Arithmetic Emmy AwardOutstanding Directing in a Children's SpecialNational Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Won
2008 Heroes Hugo AwardBest Dramatic Presentation - Long FormWorld Science Fiction Society Nominated
2008Outfest Achievement Award • Outfest Won

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