Kathryn Dietz

Kathryn Dietz

Independent Filmmaker

Areas of Focus: Documentaries, Shorts

Biography

I have spent my career in the world of independent filmmaking, as a producer, director and writer, an executive producer, a conference and festival director, educator, board member, and former executive director of Filmmakers Collaborative. At FC I mentored many filmmakers, was creative director of two national media conferences, and co-founded the Boston International Kids Film Festival. In 2014 we received three great short films about autism, which I curated into a workshop that inspired my next project.

Since 2015 I have been working on “Stories from the Spectrum,” a series of short films about teens and adults on the autism spectrum. I have finished two, have two more in production, and more characters and ideas than I can possibly produce by myself. My hope is to raise enough funding to hire a small team of filmmakers who will help me create a wide-ranging series that I will executive produce.

This is a rare place where my passion has met the world’s need. There is so much misunderstanding, fear, and unnecessary suffering in this world of autism, alongside beautiful stories of courage, perseverance, innovation, humor, and love. My hope is that the finished films will deepen public understanding, lessen stigma, celebrate accomplishments, and give voice to people who often have none.

For three years I developed “Stories” while serving as a Visiting Artist at Tufts University, my alma mater. Talented Tufts students have helped me greatly, and I’m excited to continue working with a few of them. I have also benefited from interns at Babson College, where I do leadership development coaching. I do a lot of writing and consulting for other filmmakers, and recently raised over $1 million in funding from the NEH for their projects.

Films

The Snow Ball (2016)

Role: Director

This short film features middle and high school boys who plan a dance as part of a social skills and friendship building class. I love the way it encourages “invisible skills” like cooperation and making friends.

Official selection: Boston International Kids Film Festival

[ watch trailer ]

Team of Brothers (2017)

Role: Director

This story features Jenna, who struggled with OCD, Tourette Syndrome, and a life-threatening peanut allergy. All through school she had no friends, and her parents, also disabled, did not know how to help her. When she was diagnosed with autism at age 14, it opened doors to her. She was invited to skate on the East Coast Jumbos, a disability hockey team where she was the only female — and where she found a community of brothers. I was drawn to Jenna’s story because girls on the spectrum can easily fall through the cracks. I was also interested to see how families with limited means manage, especially when dealing with multiple disabilities.

Official selection: Audience Awards, Boston International Kids Film Festival, Boston Short Film Festival, and Azalea Film Festival.

[ watch trailer ]

Targeting Cancer: The Story of Leukemia (2012)

Role: Producer, Director, Writer

This short film is part of the 3-part series, “Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine,” commissioned by the New England Journal of Medicine. I produced the series with filmmaker Nancy Porter, and was writer, director, and producer of this 2nd film, “Targeting Cancer,” which looks at breakthroughs in cancer research and the first-ever cure for one kind of leukemia.

[ watch trailer ]

Nasser's Republic, the Making of Modern Egypt (2016)

Role: Executive Producer

I was executive producer and helped write funding proposals for this documentary by FC filmmaker Michal Goldman. It was completed in 2016, and has shown to sold-out crowds on the festival circuit worldwide.

The Adventures of Saul Bellow (2017)

Role: Executive Producer

I am executive producer of this new film by director Asaf Galay. I wrote the NEH proposal which received production funding. The film is now in production, with expected release on PBS in 2019.

Cartooning America: The Fleischer Brothers Story (2017)

Role: Executive Producer

I am executive producer and writer of this film by director Asaf Galay. I wrote a successful NEH development proposal, and then did the development work, including writing an NEH production proposal and script, which is now under consideration for funding. The Fleischer brothers created Betty Boop, Popeye, KoKo the Clown, and Superman, and innovated technologies that shaped the growing animation industry. Their cartoons featured urban settings, gags, and characters who would have been at home in the brothers’ own Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Big Little Town: The Story of Needham (2012)

Role: Producer, Director, Writer

I made this film for the town of Needham’s 300th anniversary, never imagining the rich and funny history of my town! It was my first foray into the world of community access media, and a mostly terrific experience. The film has been broadcast on WGBH Boston numerous times, as a Fourth of July special, and seen locally in Needham and Wellesley – which used to be West Needham!

Young & Restless in China (2008)

Role: Producer

A 2-hour film exploring the values, trials and successes of young Chinese professionals, which premiered theatrically and on PBS Frontline in 2008. I produced it while at Ambrica Productions, a company I co-owned with filmmaker Sue Williams for 23 years.

[ watch trailer ]

Mary Pickford (2005)

Role: Producer

This 90-minute portrait of the silent era film superstar premiered on PBS American Experience in 2005.

[ watch trailer ]

Time of Fear (2004)

Role: Producer

A one-hour film about Japanese American internment camps in Arkansas during WWII, which premiered on Arkansas PBS in 2004 and nationally in 2005.

[ watch trailer ]

China in the Red (2004)

Role: Producer

A 2-hour film for PBS Frontline, exploring how ordinary people raised under the “iron rice bowl” were coping with China’s evolving capitalism.

[ watch trailer ]

Eleanor Roosevelt (2000)

Role: Producer

This 2.5 hour documentary on the former first lady premiered on PBS American Experience and is still one of their most popular biographical portraits.

[ watch trailer ]

CHINA: A Century of Revolution (1989)

Role: Producer

This 6-hour series provide a sweeping and dramatic account of China’s 20th century history. The films have been seen in over 25 countries, have won numerous prestigious industry awards, and are still in educational and home video distribution through Zeitgeist Films in NY. The films of this series are:

China in Revolution (1911-1949)
The Mao Years (1949-1976)
Born Under the Red Flag (1976-1997)

[ watch trailer ]

Making Nature Accessible (2016)

Role: Director

I was hired by Mass Audubon to make this short film about accessible trails across their state properties. They call them “All Persons Trails,” and make the experience of walking outdoors, feeling the sunshine and hearing the birds, accessible to all.

[ watch trailer ]