Maggie Greenwald

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Maggie Greenwald
Born (1955-06-23) June 23, 1955 (age 67)
OccupationFilm director, television director, screenwriter
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)David Mansfield
(1994–present; 2 children)
Maggie Greenwald portrait.jpg

Maggie Greenwald 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 McKellen. 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 Barbra 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 work includes episodes of Nashville and Madam Secretary, including the controversial episode, “Break in Democracy,” which was banned in the Philippines for its portrayal of a fictional Filipino dictator.

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

Her siblings include author Alison Leslie Gold.

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.



Title Year Writer Director Notes
Home Remedy 1987 Yes Yes
The Kill-Off 1990 Yes Yes
The Ballad of Little Jo 1993 Yes Yes
Songcatcher 2000 Yes Yes
What Makes a Family 2001 No Yes
Get a Clue 2002 No Yes
  • TV movie
Tempted 2003 No Yes
  • TV movie
Comfort and Joy 2003 No Yes
  • TV movie
Good Morning, Killer 2011 No Yes
  • TV movie
The Last Keepers 2013 No Yes
Sophie and the Rising Sun 2016 Yes Yes
Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane 2018 No Yes
  • TV movie


Year Title Episode Notes
1994–1996 The Adventures of Pete & Pete "Sick Day"
"Inspector 34"
"Sick Day"
1996–1998 The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo "Hot Seats: Part 1"
"Hot Seats: Part 2"
"Eye of the Storm"
"The Case of the Knockout Gas"
"The Mascot Mystery"
"The John Doe Mystery"
"The Macbeth Mystery"
"The Seminole Mystery"
2005 Wildfire "The Party"
2017 Nashville "Ghost in This House"
2017 Madam Secretary "Break in Diplomacy"


  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. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  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.

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