Jeffrey Friedman (born in Los Angeles, California on August 24, 1951) is a non-fiction filmmaker, director, producer, writer and editor. Friedman has won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the film Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.
Jeffrey Friedman grew up in New York City, where his mother was an actor and his father taught undergraduate English literature and edited and published a small literary magazine. Jeffrey began studying acting when he was nine, and at age twelve he acted professionally in two off-Broadway productions. He played Emil in "Emil and the Detectives" and a schoolboy on the first day of integration in Little Rock, Arkansas in "Black Monday" by Reginald Rose.
Friedman began his film training by apprenticing in the editing rooms of such films as Marjoe (Academy Award, Documentary Feature, 1972) and William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973). Other early credits include the pole-vault segment directed by Arthur Penn and edited by Dede Allen for Visions of Eight (1973), about the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Raging Bull (Academy Award, Film Editing, 1980), edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and directed by Martin Scorsese.
Friedman has been making films with Rob Epstein since 1987, when they formed the production company Telling Pictures in San Francisco, California. Friedman and Epstein's first film together was Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Common Threads recounts the first decade of AIDS in America through stories of five individuals featured in the Quilt. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Common Threads in 1990, as well as a Peabody Award, and an Emmy Award for Bobby McFerrin's original all-vocal score.
Their film The Celluloid Closet, based on the book by film historian Vito Russo, depicts a 100-year history of homosexual characters in Hollywood movies. Narrated by Lily Tomlin, The Celluloid Closet had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, was featured at the Toronto, New York, and Sundance Film Festivals (at which it received the juried Freedom of Expression Award), and at numerous international festivals, including Berlin, Tokyo, and Sydney. It received a Peabody Award and a duPont-Columbia journalism award, and Friedman and Epstein won Emmy Awards for directing.
In 2000 they directed and produced Paragraph 175, a film that explores the untold history of homosexuals during the Nazi regime in Europe. Narrated by Rupert Everett, and filmed in Germany, France and Spain, Paragraph 175 had its US premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2000, where it was awarded the documentary Grand Jury Prize for directing, followed by a European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February, where it won a FIPRESCI award (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique).
They wrote, directed, and co-produced Howl (2010), starring James Franco as the poet Allen Ginsberg, featuring Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams, and Bob Balaban. Howl, which was executive produced by Gus Van Sant, premiered on opening night at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by the Berlin and London International Film Festivals. It was released theatrically and on home video by Oscilloscope Laboratories in the U.S. and internationally by The Match Factory. Howl received a 2011 Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.
All films jointly with Rob Epstein:
- 1989: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt — Director, Producer, Writer
- 1993: Where Are We? Our Trip Through America — Director, Producer
- 1995: The Celluloid Closet — Director, Producer, Writer
- 1999: Xtreme: Sports to Die For — Director, Producer (TV)
- 2000: Paragraph 175 — Director, Producer
- 2002: Underground Zero — Director (segment "Isaiah's Rap")
- 2002: "Crime & Punishment" — Director, Producer** (TV series aka "Law & Order: Crime & Punishment")
- 2006: Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America: Gold Rush — Director (TV)
- 2007: Save Me — Executive Producer
- 2009: Sex in '69: The Sexual Revolution in America — Executive Producer
- 2010: Howl — Director, Producer, Writer
- 2013: Lovelace — Director