Donna Kanter

Donna Kanter

Donna Kanter has earned unique distinction as a writer-producer-director of two feature length documentaries among short documentary films, and over two-dozen documentaries for cable channels’ digital film platforms.

As owner of the Donna Kanter Company, Inc. for 19 years, she has excelled in her mission to employ new filmmakers, directors, and editors, four of whom she made eligible for membership in the Writers Guild of America and American Cinema Editors.

Here are highlights of Donna’s two feature length documentaries:

LUNCH (2015, 88 minutes, features 12 comedy legends who had been swapping stories and sustaining friendship over matzo ball soup for 40 years. Included in the group are Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Arthur Hiller, Monty Hall, and Donna’s father Hal Kanter. The documentary was selected for theatrical screenings, at the Directors Guild and Writers Guild, in international film festivals, and won first prize in the National Entertainment Journalism Awards and the Gold Remi in the Houston WorldFest. Vision Films, Inc. distributes LUNCH.

THE PRESENCE OF THEIR ABSENCE (2018, 85 minutes, is at the forefront of a new tradition of story telling that belongs uniquely to adult children of Holocaust survivors. The film follows Fred Zaidman, a Los Angeles son of survivors, on a journey to trace his “inherited trauma”. With only the will to push his limits and scant clues from his parents, now gone, Fred is dropped into the unknown to tell his story for this first time.

With helpers abroad and an unlikely source - a Baptist minister in Atlanta - Fred finds his roots in the ashes of the Shoah, unshackles his own pain and reconstructs his future. The documentary was selected so far this year for screenings at the Directors Guild, Writers Guild, and the Skirball Cultural Center. Virgil Films Entertainment, Inc. distributes the documentary.

Donna preceded her feature length documentary LUNCH with a short featuring seven comedy writers and the waitress who inevitably steps on their punch lines. She then wrote and directed Friends for Life. The short film is based on the Paulist Press book she edited about feature-film stillman Louis Goldman and the Italian priests who hid him during WWII, when Goldman was a teenager focusing his lens on his enemies. Donna has just completed the screenplay A DANGEROUS ALLIANCE, based on Goldman’s true story.

She is currently developing the feature length documentary, COLLATERAL DAMAGE, about children of war survivors.

Donna earned special merit as Treasurer of The Television Academy when she led a group of television and film executives in the formation of the TV Academy’s first investment policy.

During her six-year service as Governor of the Writers Peer Group for 6 years, Donna Kanter waged a successful campaign with Matthew Weiner to retain the writer and director awards on the Prime Time Emmys broadcast. A member of the Writers Guild Negotiating Committee with the AMPTP, she was also instrumental her FBI series in forming the drama-hybrid format for the Guild’s MBA, leading to agreements for independent and low budget filmmakers.

As owner of The Kanter Company, Inc., Donna has launched 14 documentary/reality series, directed the pilot Rescue 911 (CBS), Crosshairs of Fire: The NoHo Shootout (Discovery): created the first drama-reality hybrid series, FBI: The Untold Stories (ABC), and Cold Case Cops (Discovery). She is producer/writer of MOWs based on true stories: Long Journey Home (aka Aftermath) (CBS Films), The Flood and The Last Victim (NBC).

She was a writer of the true-story feature film Acceptable Losses for Interscope Films, and writer-director of the documentary, A Civil Action: In Pursuit of Justice for Touchstone Films.

Other documentary credits: Pope John Paul II’s Vatican, The White House: Behind the Gates, Lucy: Queen of Comedy, Inside the FBI, Ringing Bros. Revealed, Great Heists, The Angry Earth, Eyes to the Skies, No Access (multiple episodes, Discovery); four seasons of Badge of Courage (Tru TV) and Save Our Streets (NBC).

Raised in an atmosphere of comedy writers and publishers, Donna gravitated to labor and investigative reporting at KING-TV Seattle, becoming Executive Producer before joining Newsweek, ABC as a foreign editor, and senior producer for David Brinkley.

A graduate of UC Berkeley, Donna earned her M.A. in Romance Languages from the University of Florence. She completed her doctorate requirements in Italian Literature at UCLA, and then left studies on The Resistance: WWII Italy to work for Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law and the FCC.

A two-time Emmy recipient and member of the AFI's Directing Workshop for Women, Donna Kanter is a founding member of New York women in Film, a member of the WGA, DGA, AFTRA, and IDA.

She has conducted interviews with Warsaw Ghetto and Italian Holocaust survivors for the Shoah Foundation, and in 2016, won the National Journalism Entertainment’s First Prize for her tribute to writer Ben Starr in the Writers Guild Magazine.

Donna is a board member of Hollywood, Health and Society of the Norman Lear Center, Annenberg School at USC. She is executive of her father Hal Kanter’s archives and her family has accepted an invitation to donate Hal’s vast work to The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.