Leitman has directed six feature length non-fiction films as well as several music videos, PSAs since she graduated with a BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her films focus on women and those whose lives have faced a lack of opportunity, but who are survivors. Leitman's work has addressed many social issues head on, including: teen sexuality, adults with disabilities, mental health issues, and childhood sexual abuse. Leitman's films give voice to many whose voice has often been silenced.
Leitman's most recent film Lipstick & Dynamite (2005), a documentary about the pioneers of girl wrestling in the 1940's premiered TriBeCa Film Festival where it was picked up for North American Theatrical and DVD distribution by Koch Lorber Films and aired on SHOWTIME. The film was featured on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and Leitman was a guest on NPR's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross" and The Independent Film Channel's 'At the Angelika' in 2005. It was an official selection of the HOT DOCS!- The Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, The Seattle International Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, The Hamptons International Film Festival, Festival do Rio, Atlanta Film Festival where it won the Audience Award and the Nantucket Film Festival where it won the Best Documentary Storytelling award.
Leitman's first documentary, WIildwood, NJ. (1994) screened at SXSW, Pacific Film Archive, Dallas Video Festival, Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and the Atlanta Film and Video Festival, where it won the Audience Award. Wiildwood aired on Public Television in Moscow in 1995. During the summer of 2009, WIildwood, NJ. became a youtube viral video hit, with over 500,000 views, featured on several best of year-end lists, hundreds of blogs including: Jezebel, WFMU, G4's Attack of the Show and VH-1's Best Week Ever.
Leitman received a 1997 Rockefeller Fellowship for Alma (1998). In the story-telling tradition of Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor and framed by accusations of incest, Alma is an unflinching examination of family secrets, love and abuse. Alma was broadcast on TV in Canada, Finland, Israel and Mexico. . Leitman was invited to screen Alma at the Directors Guild of America NY and The Whitney Biennial 2000. Alma premiered at SXSW, won the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and has been included in the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam, International Documentary Film Festival Munich, Women in the Director's Chair, HOT DOCS!, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Australia Documentary Conference. Following Alma, Leitman's documentary, Welcome to Anatevka (2001), a verite' film that focuses on a group of adults with developmental disabilities staging a musical also traveled to numerous festivals nationwide.
Her early work as a photographer includes album covers for the Black Crowes and The Indigo Girls, magazine covers of Chuck D, Outkast, Da Brat and Jermaine Dupri as well as being a frequent contributor with Working Mother Magazine, Rolling Stone, Spin, Esquire and Newsweek.
Leitman's upcoming fiction feature projects include three screenplays she has written, The Wind Cries Mary, a girl wrestling script set in the 50's entitled, The Pin-Down Girl and Venus Stopped the Train.
Leitman's new documentary Tony & Janina's American Wedding is an urgent story that follows a Chicago Polish immigrant family being torn apart by our broken immigration system. The film just premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival where it won the Chicago Filmmaker jury Prize.
Leitman has directed music videos for Neko Case, Ultrababyfat and The Redwalls.
Other directing clients include: Oxygen Network, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Sallie Mae Student Loans, Related Midwest, American Trial Lawyers Association, Safe Humane Chicago, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Fair Wisconsin, Harry Mitchell for Congress, Alexi Giannoulias for Treasurer.
Leitman teaches filmmaking at the Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.