Mark Birnbaum’s films have probed, celebrated and exposed people to places and personalities from Nicaragua dancing with socialism to Tom DeLay dancing with the stars. His documentary, Stop the Presses: The American Newspaper in Peril, is “surprisingly inspiring, as it points to the inevitable reinvention of an industry in need of new life,” according to the Dallas Observer. His documentary, The Big Buy, about Tom DeLay’s rise and fall, “presents its evidence clearly and with a welcome sense of humor,” according to a The New York Times critic. Another critic says The Big Buy is “more feisty and fun than a drunken barbecue in Beaumont.”
His film SWINGMAN tells the story of Fort Worth firefighter Captain Marshall Allen, a fireman's fireman. An accident put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He's still a fireman, and he's happier now than he’s ever been. SWINGMAN has screened in numerous film festivals around the world, including its World Premiere, Dallas VideoFest; Best Documentary, Universe Multicultural Film Festival, Los Angeles; and Special Jury Award, International Film Festival for Environment, Health and Culture, Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as being broadcast on KERA-TV, Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Birnbaum began making films while serving in the United States Army as a photographer and filmmaker in Vietnam. When he returned from his tour of duty, he went to work at the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. He left his roots in Baltimore and moved to Texas where he worked at KERA, Dallas’ PBS affiliate for several years before becoming an independent filmmaker.
His latest film, Restore, is a short film that examines three North Texas restoration projects: The Old Dallas Municipal Building, a Beaux Arts beauty which will become the UNT Law School; the 169 year-old Sharrock Log Cabin, thought to be the oldest standing structure in Dallas County; and Lady Justice, an 11 ft. tall copper statue being restored after a long absence to her rightful place atop the Navarro County Courthouse. Underwritten by Phoenix 1 Restoration and Construction, Ltd., the offers a broad, behind-the-scenes look at historic restoration and the obsession with old buildings shared among craftsmen, curators, engineers and architects. It was broadcast on KERA-TV, screened at the Dallas Museum of Art, won the 2016 Media Award from Preservation Texas and the Education Award from Preservation Dallas.