School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Mark Harris, B.A.

Distinguished Professor
Head, Advanced Documentary Production course
Mona and Bernard Kantor Endowed Chair in Production

Affiliated Divisions:

Division of Film & Television Production

Work Phone: 213.740.3319
Office: SCA 434

Professor Mark Jonathan Harris is an Academy-Award winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and novelist. Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are The Redwoods, a documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a redwood National Park, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 1968. The Long Way Home (1997), a film made for the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the period immediately following the Holocaust won the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (1997). Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport was produced for Warner Bros. and won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary in 2000. In 2014, it was also selected for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry.

Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003), an HBO documentary he wrote on slavery in America, was nominated for an Emmy for Non-fiction Special. In 2007, he produced Darfur Now, which was nominated by The National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association for best documentary of the year. The film went on to win an NAACP Image Award.

He also wrote The Cutting Edge:  The Magic of Movie Editing, a documentary about editing produced by BBC-TV, NHK, and STARZ, which is shown in film schools around the world (2004). Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders, a film he executive produced, premiered at the Venice film festival and was shortlisted for the 2011 Oscar for best feature documentary. Code Black, another documentary he executive produced about ER doctors, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. Lost for Life, a film he produced about juvenile murderers who are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, aired on both the BBC and the Lifetime Movie Channel in 2014. 

In 2016, he co-wrote and co-directed Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine, which won eight awards at eleven international film festivals, including Best of Show at the Accolade Global Film Competition.Women of the Gulag, a short documentary he executive produced, was shortlisted for Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2019. In 2019, Foster, a feature length documentary that he wrote and directed, aired on HBO and was nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. Asian Americans, a 5-part documentary series for which he was a consulting producer, aired on PBS in May 2020 and was nominated for a Peabody Award.

Among his other projects are a video intensive website on autism,, which he and Professor Emeritus Marsha Kinder developed with a team of filmmakers and leading national experts on autism and launched in 2013. He is also a co-principal investigator of the American Film Showcase, the premier American film diplomacy program run by the U.S. State Department and USC.

In 2010 the International Documentary Association honored him with their Scholarship and Preservation Award. And in 2021, he received the USC Associates Award for Artistic Expression, the highest honor the university faculty bestows on its member for significant artistic impact.

In addition to filmmaking, Harris is also a journalist and has published short stories and five novels for children. He has taught filmmaking at the School of Cinematic Arts since 1983.