By Joanna Prempeh

“All of my work begins with an image, a moment caught in time, from the first time I processed black & white film many platforms ago. The stills have turned to moving image and sound, because I wanted to hear the stories of the people I was photographing.  I tell stories in feature length for the big screen, or in minutes or less for the web and all screens in between. The tools and venues change, but never the inspiration.”

Ruth Leitman is a fine example of a hidden diamond. Leitman’s documentary work is a mark above many and is reality at its rawest. Beginning her career as a photographer, she worked with musicians including the Black Crowes and Indigo Girls and also lent her talents to the front covers of some of the most renowned magazines, such as Rolling Stone and Spin.

A graduate from the University of Arts in Philidelphia, Leitman began to extend her skills to the production of music videos and independent films. She has since made 5 independent documentary films, many of which are award-winning, with Alma (1998) gaining her a Rockefeller Fellowship. Leitman also teaches filmmaking at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.

Her Gonzo approach to filmmaking is most evident in her ‘Wildwood, NJ’ documentary (1994) where she follows the distinct lifestyles in the area, through talking to the locals.

Leitman is currently working on the documentary, ‘Tony & Janina’s American Wedding’, due to premiere this year.  The film focuses on the irrational immigration system currently in action in America. It’s a beautiful, yet heartbreaking piece which illustrates the manner in which such systems are tearing innocent families apart.

Leitman is also working on two fictional projects entitled Venus Stopped the Train and The Pin-Down Girl, a movie based on the 50’s female wrestling world.

“Whether the subject is a woman from the subculture of 1950’s wrestling, a schoolteacher, a Midwestern farmer in support of gay marriage, a pop music icon, or the CEO of McDonald’s, I try to find the truth that emanates deep from within.”

Her style allows the viewer to create their own perceptions of an issue rather than imposing a belief as many documentaries do in the modern day.

Her films are available for purchase from Ruthless Films: