Maggie Greenwald

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Maggie Greenwald
Maggie Greenwald.jpg
Born (1955-06-23) June 23, 1955 (age 63)
OccupationFilm director, television director, screenwriter
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)David Mansfield
(1993–2018; 2 children)

Maggie Greenwald (born June 23, 1955 in Queens, New York) is an American filmmaker.[1][2]

Most recognized as an independent writer and director, Greenwald’s most notable films include Sophie and the Rising Sun (2016), starring an ensemble cast that included Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Lorraine Toussaint and Diane Ladd, Songcatcher (2000) starring Aidan Quinn and Janet McTeer and introducing Emmy Rossum, and The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), starring Suzy Amis and Ian McKellan. She also directed an adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Kill-Off featuring an ensemble cast that included Cathy Haase and the film debut of Jorja Fox.


Greenwald’s first feature film, Home Remedy (1987), from her original screenplay, premiered at the Munich Film Festival before screening at the London and Torino Film Festivals, and opening at the prestigious Film Forum in New York.

The next film she directed was The Kill-Off (1990), which she adapted from Jim Thompson’s noir novel of the same name. Acquired by Channel 4 in Britain, and released theatrically by Palace Filmed Entertainment, the film also appeared at film festivals around the world, including: Sundance (in Dramatic Competition), Munich (opening night, American Independent section), London, Florence, Deauville, Toronto and Edinburgh, before winning the Best Director Award at the Torino Film Festival before its release in the US. The film is listed in the BFI (British Film Institute) Screen Guides as one of the 100 best American Independent Films.[3] It established Greenwald’s as a significant independent filmmaking voice.

Greenwald went on to write and direct her groundbreaking Western, The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), which was released worldwide by Fine Line Features and Polygram Filmed Entertainment. Star Suzy Amis was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award while co-star David Chung won the award for Best Supporting Actor. A great deal has been written about the film by scholars of the Western who consider The Ballad of Little Jo a landmark revisionist film within the genre.[4][5][6] The film is also one of the primary subjects of Modleski’s Old Wives Tales and Other Women’s Stories, which explores “the phenomenon of female authors and performers who ‘cross-dress’ - women, that is, who are moving into male genres and staking out territory declared off-limits by men and by many feminists.”[7]

Subsequently, Greenwald wrote and directed Songcatcher (2000).[8] An unconventional, naturalistic musical, the film premiered in Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where it garnered a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance. The film received the first Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize, Deauville Film Festival Audience Award, two Independent Spirit Award nominations (for actors Emmy Rossum and Pat Carroll) and a GLAAD Award nomination.[9]

Greenwald’s most recent film, Sophie and the Rising Sun (2016), is based on the novel by Augusta Trobaugh. She adapted, produced and directed the film,[10][11] which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2016, Salt Lake City Gala World Premiere.[12]

Throughout her career, Greenwald has shifted back and forth between directing feature films and directing television. Her numerous TV movies include What Makes a Family, starring Brooke Shields, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cherry Jones. It was produced by Barbara Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg, with Academy Award winning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The Lifetime Television Channel movie went on to win a prestigious GLAAD Award for Outstanding Television Movie and a Humanitas Award. Other TV movies include Get A Clue, starring Lindsay Lohan, Tempted starring Virginia Madsen, Comfort and Joy, Lifetime Television’s Christmas standard, and Good Morning, Killer, starring Catherine Bell, based on April Smith’s Ana Grey novel.

Recent television episodic work includes Episode 15, Season 3, of Madam Secretary, titled “Break in Democracy,” which aired on March 12, 2017 on CBS in the US, and was banned in the Philippines for its controversial depiction of a fictional Filipino President.[13] Her episode of Nashville will air during the show’s fifth season on CMT in 2017.

Earlier forays in directing for episodic television expanded Greenwald’s work to include children’s television. For Nickelodeon she directed several episodes of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, created the look of the show The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, for which she directed six episodes over two seasons. She also directed the non-air pilot for a show that evolved into Backyardigans and an episode of Wildfire for ABC Family (now Freeform).

Personal life[edit]

Greenwald was formerly married to composer-musician David Mansfield, who scored many of her films (1994-2017). They have two daughters, Maisie (born 1997) and Lulu (born 2000).

Her siblings include author Alison Leslie Gold, poet Ted Greenwal[14] and garden designer Nancy Greenwald.[15]

Greenwald has taught film directing and screenwriting at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Films written and directed[edit]

Sophie and the Rising Sun (2017): Sundance Film Festival Salt Lake City Gala Film, Charleston Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival (Best Director Award), São Paulo Film Festival, among others. Monterey Media release.

The Last Keepers (2013): BCDF release.

Songcatcher (2000): Sundance Dramatic Competition and Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance, Sloan Foundation Award, Deauville Film Festival Audience Award, two Independent Spirit Awards (Best Debut Performance - Emmy Rossum, Best Supporting Female - Pat Carroll), GLAAD Award nominations (Outstanding Film - limited release), Director’s View Festival Dorothy Arzner Prize, Hamptons Film Festival Feature Film Prize in Science and Technology. Lionsgate Entertainment.

The Ballad of Little Jo (1993): Rome-Florence Film Festival (Special Jury Award), Independent Spirit Award: nominated for Best Female Lead (Suzy Amis), won Best Supporting Male (David Chung).[16] Fine Line Features and Polygram Filmed Entertainment.

The Kill-Off (1990): Sundance Film Festival, Dramatic Competition, Torino International Film Festival, Best Director Award, London Film Festival, Munich Film Festival (American Independent Section) Deauville Film Festival. British Film Institute list of “100 Best American Independents."[17]

Home Remedy (1987): Munich Film Festival (American Independent section), Torino Film Festival.

Television films directed[edit]

Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane (2018), TV movie.

Good Morning, Killer (2011), TV movie.

Tempted (2003, aka Returning Lily), TV movie.

Comfort and Joy (2003), TV movie.

Get a Clue (2002), TV movie.

What Makes a Family (2001), TV movie: GLAAD Award for Outstanding Television Movie, Humanitas Award.

Episodic television directed[edit]

Nashville (2017), TV series, episode “Ghost in the House.”

Madam Secretary (2017), TV series, episode “Break in Diplomacy.”

Wildfire (2005), TV series, episode “The Party.”

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, TV series, episodes “The Seminole Mystery” (1997), “The Macbeth Mystery” (1997), “The John Doe Mystery” (1997), “The Mascot Mystery” (1997), “The Case of the Knockout Gas” (1997), “Eye of the Storm” (1997), “Wipeout” (1996), “Hot Seats: Part 2” (1996), “Hot Seats: Part 1” (1996).

The Adventures of Pete & Pete (TV series), episodes “The Trouble with Teddy” (1996), “Inspector 34” (1994), “Sick Day” (1994).


  1. ^ Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey (1995). Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary. Wesport, CT, and London: Greenwood Press. p. 157.
  2. ^ Feinstein, Howard (14 June 2001). "Interview: Imagecatcher; The Ballad of Maggie Greenwald".
  3. ^ "100 American Independent Films (BFI Screen Guide)". IMDb. 24 January 2012.
  4. ^ Grant, Barry Keith (Summer 2015). "Anti-Oedipus: Feminism, the Western, and the Ballad of Little Jo". CineAction. no. 96.
  5. ^ Modleski, Tania (Winter 1995–96). "Our Heroes Have Sometimes Been Cowgirls: An Interview with Maggie Greenwald". Film Quarterly. 49 (2): 2–11.
  6. ^ Kitses, Jim (1998). “An Exemplary Post-Modern Western: The Ballad of Little Jo,” in The Western Reader, Gregg Rickman and Jim Kitses, eds. New York: Limelight Editions, pp. 223-244.
  7. ^ Modleski, Tania (1998). Old Wives' Tales and Other Women's Stories. New York: NYU Press.
  8. ^ "Leonard Maltin Interviews Songcatcher (2000) director Maggie Greenwald". YouTube.
  9. ^ "Songcatcher (2000) Awards". IMDb.
  10. ^ Martinez, Diana (20 January 2016). "Sundance 2016 Women Directors: Meet Maggie Greenwald – 'Sophie and the Rising Sun'". IndieWire.
  11. ^ Hemphill, Jim (26 January 2017). ""Forget Sepia, It's Garbage": Maggie Greenwald on Sophie and the Rising Sun". Filmmaker.
  12. ^ Chen, Daphne (22 January 2016). "Sundance's Salt Lake City Gala Film Highlights Women, Minorities". Deseret News.
  13. ^ Staff reporter (7 March 2017). "Philippines Angered by TV portrayal of Lecherous Leader in Madam Secretary". The Independent.
  14. ^ Staff, Harriet. "Remembering Ted Greenwald (1942–2016)". Poetry Foundation.
  15. ^ "The Arbor Bed and Breakfast". 11 November 2018.
  16. ^ "The Ballad of Little Jo (2003) Awards". IMDb.
  17. ^ "The Kill-Off (1989) Awards". IMDb.

External links[edit]