Margaret Lazarus

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Margaret Lazarus (born January 22, 1949) is an American film producer/film director known for her work in documentary film. She and her partner, Renner Wunderlich, received an Academy Award in 1993[1] for their documentary Defending Our Lives, about battered women who were in prison for killing their abusers.[2]


Margaret Lazarus was born in New York City. She graduated with honors from Vassar College and received a master's degree in Communications and Media from Boston University,[3] and to date has produced and directed 20 films about social justice and women's issues. She began her career as a producer writer for a weekly public affairs program on the CBS affiliate in Boston.

In 1974 she co-founded with Wunderlich the non-profit organization, Cambridge Documentary Films,[4] and to date has produced and directed 20 films about social justice and women's issues:[5][6] Including films on rape, "Rape is" and "Rape Culture", films on body image and media culture, "BirthMarkings", "The Strength to Resist","Killing Us Softly", and "Still Killing Us Softly", on trauma and recovery, "Strong at the Broken Places",and films on labor history, "Eugene Debs and the American Movement". In addition to the Academy Award, her films have won numerous awards and prizes and have been screened at festivals throughout the world. She is currently the Executive Director of Cambridge Documentary Films. Her films about rape, domestic violence and body image are some of the most widely distributed short documentaries in the United States.

Throughout her career she has combined documentary filmmaking and political activism.[7] In 1999 she produced and directed a series of short films on women, violence and human rights for UNIFEM, which were screened at the UN General Assembly. She is one of the co-authors of the chapter on Violence Against Women, in four of the editions of Our Bodies Ourselves.[8]

As a Senior Fellow she taught "Producing Films for Social Change" at Tufts University from 2006–2009.[9] She has served as a member of the executive committee of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


  • 1974 "Taking Our Bodies Back: The Women’s Health Movement”
  • 1975 “Rape Culture”
  • 1977 “Eugene Debs and the American Movement”
  • 1979 “Killing Us Softly”
  • 1981 “Calling the Shots: Advertising Alcohol”
  • 1982 “Pink Triangles: A film about Homophobia”
  • 1984 “Hazardous Inheritance: Workplace Hazards to Reproductive Health”
  • 1986 “Last Empire: US Intervention”
  • 1987 “Still Killing Us Softly”
  • 1988 “Not Just a Job”
  • 1989 “Advertising Alcohol”
  • 1991 “Life’s Work”
  • 1993 “Defending Our Lives”
  • 1998 “Strong at the Broken Places”
  • 1999 “Women’s Rights, Human Rights”
  • 2000 “Beyond Killing Us Softly”
  • 2001 “The Strength to Resist: Media’s Impact on Women and Girls”
  • 2003 “Rape Is”
  • 2005 “Healing the Wounds" (producer only)
  • 2010 “BirthMarkings”


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Defending Our Lives". MediaRights. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  3. ^ "Margaret Lazarus:Biography". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Cambridge Documentary Films". Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  5. ^ Jackman, Ann. "A Voice for Social Change". New England Film. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Wahlin, Britt. "Women's Experience Honored at Women in Film & Video's Image Awards Celebration". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  7. ^ Souza, Amy. "Films that Challenge". New England Film. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth Contributors' Bios". Our Bodies Ourselves. Archived from the original on September 9, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  9. ^ "Using Media to Promote Social Change". Tufts University. Retrieved May 11, 2011.

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