Tom Donahue (filmmaker)
May 18, 1968|
Rhinebeck, New York
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
Tom Donahue (born May 18, 1968) is an American film director and producer. His two latest feature documentaries are HBO's Casting By, which was nominated for an Emmy, and Thank You for Your Service, which was released theatrically by Gathr Films in 2016. In 2010, Donahue founded the production company CreativeChaos vmg with Ilan Arboleda and Steve Edwards.
Donahue co-directed an episode of the 10-part AFI series, 100 Years/100 Movies (with Linda Schaffer), which was broadcast on TNT in 1998. It was called The Antiheroes, and included interviews with Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Paul Schrader and was narrated by James Woods. The series was executive produced by Richard Schickel and Mel Stuart. 
He made his feature documentary debut with Guest of Cindy Sherman (as co-director with Paul H-O) which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. The film opened theatrically in March 2009 and had its broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel in May 2009. 
If a doc manages to inform and entertain, it's ahead of the competition. If it features engaging personalities (or penguins), so much the better. And if it manages not to lose its assets while dipping its toe into murkier issues -- becoming, say, a brow-knitting thumb-sucker -- then it's really a work of art; such is Guest of Cindy Sherman.
Donahue directed the feature documentary, Casting By, which was hailed as one of the top five documentary films of 2013 by the National Board of Review and reviewed as "outstanding" by American film critic Leonard Maltin. It premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (where it was picked up for broadcast by HBO Documentary Films). It premiered domestically at the 2012 New York Film Festival. Casting By was lauded by the Casting Society of America. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced five days before Casting By's premiere on HBO that its Board of Governors had approved the creation of a branch for casting directors. On the night of the 29th Annual Artios Awards hosted by the Casting Society of America, the Casting By filmmakers received a standing ovation for its pivotal role in spurring Academy recognition.
In 2014, it won the Gracie Award for Outstanding Documentary of the Year from the National Alliance for Women in Media. In July 2014, the film was nominated for the News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming.
Donahue's feature documentary, Thank You For Your Service, premiered at DOC NYC in November 2015. Called "gut-wrenching" and "important" by The New York Times, the film is an examination of failed mental health policy in the U.S. military. The film argues the creation of a Behavioral Health Corps is necessary to ensure accountability in the military chain of command toward mental health. Thank You For Your Service includes interviews with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, General David Petraeus, General Loree Sutton, General Peter Chiarelli, Gary Sinise, Sebastian Junger and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. These interviews are interwoven with the experiences of four combat veterans who fought major battles while deployed in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The Los Angeles Times review stated, "With the same clarity and fluency he brought to far sunnier material in Casting By, Donahue pinpoints the devastating intersection of personal trauma and institutional neglect in an age of perpetual war."
A CreativeChaos vmg production, the film was produced by Ilan Arboleda, Matt Tyson and Donahue in association with the Sprayregen Family Foundation and Regina K. Scully & Artemis Rising Foundation (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground), executive-produced by Gerald Sprayregen and co-executive produced by Regina K. Scully. It won Best Documentary at the 2016 G.I. Film Festival and the Impact Award at the 2016 Illuminate Film Festival. G.I. Film Festival Co-Founder Laura Law-Millett called it "one of the most powerful, impactful films I have ever seen."
It was acquired by Gathr Films and opened theatrically in September / October 2016 in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The American Red Cross and U.S. Senators Angus King, Patty Murray, Ron Wyden, and Joe Donnelly hosted the D.C. premiere; King and Donnelly attended and participated in a Q&A hosted by CBS' David Martin. The film had its New York premiere aboard the USS Intrepid in New York Harbor, hosted by the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point.
U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) wrote about the film:
Art has the power to raise awareness of important questions and can also often spur us to action. By highlighting the personal struggles of individual service members who returned home from Iraq, Thank You For Your Service is a powerful indictment of our treatment of many of those returning with scars not as clear as those from physical injuries but often no less debilitating. As the film vividly illustrates, in the early years of our post-9/11 wars, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs simply were not prepared to deal with the large numbers of returning veterans who needed access to mental health services. The inescapable conclusion is that when we commit America's men and women to war, we must always think long and hard about how we will take care of them when they return. Raising awareness is the first step in understanding this imperative, and as such, this film acts as both a powerful tribute to those to whom we owe so much as well as a call to a renewed commitment on their behalf.
In June 2016, Variety announced that Donahue - in association with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the Artemis Rising Foundation - will be directing a feature documentary exploring the issues surrounding gender inequality in Hollywood. The film is being produced by Ilan Arboleda, Kerianne Flynn and Donahue.
In 2003, Donahue produced and edited Alfredo de Villa's debut feature, Washington Heights, winner of five Best Picture awards at festivals worldwide, the Audience Award at Los Angeles Film Festival, and Special Jury Award at the TriBeCa Film Festival. Washington Heights also received a Gotham Award nomination for the IFP Open Palm Award.
Donahue was co-producer on Ramin Bahrani's debut feature, Man Push Cart, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. He produced the feature documentary, Highway Courtesans (directed by Mystelle Brabbee), which had its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and its U.S. premiere at South by Southwest.
He produced the feature film Ponies, directed by Nick Sandow (Orange Is the New Black) and starring John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos) and Kevin Corrigan. It was named a New York Times Critics Pick upon its release in 2012.
Donahue's first narrative feature as editor was Raphael Nadjari's The Shade (starring Richard Edson). The film premiered at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. He also edited Raphael Nadjari's next two films, I am Josh Polonsky's Brother and Apartment#5C (which premiered as part of the 2002 Cannes Directors' Fortnight).
He edited the IFC Films feature documentary, Keep the River on Your Right based on the book of the same name by Tobias Schneebaum. The film won the 2001 Gotham Spirit Truer than Fiction Award & the Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
For television, Donahue edited several episodes of Showtime's acclaimed live action version of Ira Glass' This American Life (nominated for three Emmys in 2007). He edited the pilots for the reality series, Growing Up Gotti, I Pity the Fool, Heroes Among Us and The Cho Show and has edited episodes of Iconoclasts, Salt'N Pepa, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane and HBO's Real Sex.
|2006||Man Push Cart||Yes||as co-Producer||88%|
|2008||Guest of Cindy Sherman||Yes||as co-Director||70%|
|2012||Ponies||Yes||Not Yet Rated|
|2012||Casting By||Yes||Yes||Co-Produced with Kate Lacey, Joanna Colbert, and Ilan Arboleda||92%|
|2015||Thank You for Your Service||Yes||Yes||Co-Produced with Ilan Arboleda and Matt Tyson||Not Yet Rated|
|2018||This Changes Everything||Yes||Yes||Not Yet Rated|
|2005||Thanksgiving||Yes||Yes||Not Yet Rated|
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