Jonathan Berman


Public bio

Jonathan Berman's  non-fiction feature films explore subculture and identity, challenging how alternative people, groups and ideas are represented in media.  His film, "Commune," (2006), delves into a seminal 1960’s commune who ultimately discover that each person has their own idea of utopia. The film premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, and played in theaters, top festivals, and on the Sundance Channel and Netflix.

Berman began his career as an assistant film editor in Manhattan working on documentaries, art films, and genre projects. His first directorial effort, "The Shvitz" (1994) is a popular exploration of the last traditional American steambaths that was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and released on DVD by New Video. "My Friend Paul" (1999), his second documentary, is an edgy look at the intersection of mental illness, friendship, and crime. It was made with ITVS, a part of PBS, and favorably reviewed by the NY Times and other publications.

Berman is a graduate of McGill University in Montréal (BA). He received a Master's degree from Bard College (MFA), and has taught filmmaking at Sarah Lawrence College. Grants include support from the NY State Council on Arts, NY Council for the Humanities, and the Jerome Foundation; screenings and festivals include the Jerusalem Film Festival, Amsterdam Documentary Festival, Karlovy Vary in Czech Republic, South By Southwest, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and ARTE and other European public TV networks.

Other producing work includes the Discovery Network series "Maternity Ward" for New York Times Television; co-producing a documentary on avant-garde jazz, "Sabbath In Paradise," and the nature documentary "Chant of Paradise." Story credits include the fiction dark comedy film "On the Run."

Berman's current project "People of Earth," explores the legacy of George Van Tassel and his fantastical Integratron dome near Joshua Tree, California. The project uses the story to consider the how 20th century technology intersected with belief in Southern California counterculture. He is an  Associate Professor in the School of Arts at Cal State San Marcos, where he teaches classes about film and video.