Robert Greenwald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Greenwald
Born (1945-08-28) August 28, 1945 (age 78)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationFilm director
  • Heidi Frey
  • Nancy Greenwald (divorced)
ChildrenRachel Greenwald
Leah Greenwald
Noah Greenwald
Maya Greenwald

Robert Greenwald (born August 28, 1945) is an American filmmaker, and the founder of Brave New Films, a nonprofit film and advocacy organization whose work is distributed for free in concert with nonprofit partners and movements in order to educate and mobilize for progressive causes. With Brave New Films, Greenwald has made investigative documentaries such as Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004), Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), Rethink Afghanistan (2009), Koch Brothers Exposed (2012), and War on Whistleblowers (2013), Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote (2020), Suppressed and Sabotaged: The Fight to Vote (2022), Beyond Bars: A Son's Fight for Justice (2022) as well as many short investigative films and internet videos.

Before launching Brave Films in 2000, Greenwald produced and/or directed more than 65 TV movies, miniseries and films as well as major theatrical releases.[1] His early body of work includes Steal This Movie! (2000),[2] starring Vincent D'Onofrio as 60s radical Abbie Hoffman; Breaking Up (1997), starring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek; A Woman of Independent Means (1995) with Sally Field; The Burning Bed (1984)[2] with Farrah Fawcett; and Xanadu (1980), for which he won the inaugural Golden Raspberry award for Worst Director.

Greenwald has earned 25 Emmy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Award. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.

Early life[edit]

Greenwald was born and raised in New York City. He is son of the prominent psychotherapist Harold Greenwald,[3][4] and the nephew of choreographer Michael Kidd. He attended the city's High School of Performing Arts. Greenwald started his directing career in the theater, with The People Vs. Ranchman (1968),[5] A Long Time Coming and A Long Time Gone (1971),[6] Me and Bessie (1975) and I Have a Dream (1976), a play based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., with Billy Dee Williams playing King.[4][7]

Television and feature film career[edit]

Greenwald moved to Los Angeles in 1972, where he continued working as a theater director at the Mark Taper Forum.[8] He later launched a career as a director for television, establishing first Moonlight Productions[8] and then Robert Greenwald Productions (RGP), and began creating theatrical films, television movies, miniseries and documentaries with a distinct social and political sensibility. Moonlight Productions was responsible for 34 films, and RGP has brought more than 45 films to audiences worldwide. In 1977, Greenwald received his first of three Emmy Award nominations for producing the television movie 21 Hours at Munich[9] about the massacre at the 1972 Olympics. His next Emmy nomination came in 1984 for directing The Burning Bed,[10] one of the most-watched television movies of all time.[11] Based on a true story, The Burning Bed has been credited as "a turning point in the fight against domestic violence."[12] Greenwald also directed theatrical films such as Xanadu (1980), Sweet Hearts Dance (1988), Breaking Up (1997), and Steal This Movie! (2000).[13]

Xanadu received mostly negative reviews. The film underperformed at the box office, grossing only $23 million against a reported $20 million budget, a total that was insufficient to offset all related costs and return a profit. A double feature of Xanadu and another musical released at about the same time, Can't Stop the Music directed by Nancy Walker, inspired John J. B. Wilson to create the Golden Raspberry Awards (or "Razzies"), an annual event "dishonoring" what is considered the worst in cinema for a given year.[14] Xanadu won the first Razzie for Worst Director and was nominated for six other awards.

Documentary work[edit]

Greenwald turned to documentary filmmaking in 2002,[15] executive-producing three political documentaries known as "The Un Trilogy": Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002);[16] Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War (2003),[17] which Greenwald also directed; and Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties.

At Brave New Films, Greenwald has produced and directed numerous feature-length documentaries, along with many short films and videos.[18] In 2013, Greenwald released War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State and a documentary about the U.S. government's drone program, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.[19] His full-length feature documentary, Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA (2015), illustrates the connection between gun industry profits and gun deaths in America.[20]

Following the release of 16 Women and Donald Trump, which featured women who publicly accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, Greenwald hosted three of the accusers at a December, 2017 press conference in New York.[21] In 2018, Greenwald created a short film to thank three Black women targeted by Donald Trump entitled, Thanks.[22]

In 2019, Greenwald released Suppressed: The Fight to Vote about voter suppression in the 2018 Georgia election, in which Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp in the race for governor.[23] Variety described the film as "scary and galvanizing" and said it demonstrated that "what happened in Georgia has implications that extend far beyond that race."[24] The film was updated and released in April 2022 to expose voter suppression laws passed in 19 states across the United States. The 2022 film, entitled Suppressed and Sabotaged: The Fight to Vote features additional stories from voters in Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

As coronavirus raged throughout the US in the summer of 2020, Greenwald's short film, Maddie’s Grandparents: A Preventable COVID Tragedy, about a Florida teenager who turned her grief at losing both her grandparents to COVID-19 into activism,[25][26] made national headlines, as did her response to President Trump telling Americans not to let COVID “dominate” their lives.[27] Greenwald also joined forces with American rock musician Tom Morello for No Justice No Peace, a short video about police violence that “spotlights the contrast between the racial injustice in the U.S. and the Trump administration's position on it”[28] in honor of George Floyd.[29]

In the fall of 2022, Greenwald's Brave New Films will release Beyond Bars: A Son's Fight for Justice, an intimate look into the life of former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Distribution and impact[edit]

Greenwald has applied the principles of guerrilla filmmaking at Brave New Films, using small budgets and short shooting schedules to produce political documentaries[30] and then distributing them on DVDs and the Internet in affiliation with advocacy groups such as[30] Brave New Film's methods are "rewriting the book on how movies are made and distributed."[31] Greenwald's innovative model is said to be "working magnificently":[32] "Millions of viewers have seen BNF films via grassroots 'house parties' and independent online DVD sales",[33] as well as in more traditional theater screenings and online.

As a pioneer in alternative methods for effective progressive political campaigns,[34][35][36][37][38] Greenwald has eschewed traditional distribution models of studio and network releases.[35][36] He was among the first to post political online shorts and viral videos on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet, as well as releasing full-length documentaries online in a series of “real time” chapters.[36][37][39] Greenwald's group takes full advantage of a variety of media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, and harnesses new distribution channels as soon as they emerge.[38][40] A 2019 profile described the approach as a "marketing alchemy of feeds, hashtags, likes, favorites, hearts, @s, memes, soundbites and video clips, all edited, spliced and calibrated to grab attention in a hyperspeed world."[41]

This approach has "inspired hundreds of thousands of people to take action and forced pressing issues into the mainstream media."[42] He has been called "one of the most prominent and influential voices in new media."[43] According to a Brave New Films website, as of 2013 its documentaries "have been streamed across all 7 continents and have been viewed over 70 million times."[44]


Various sources have described Greenwald's political activism as left-wing.[45][46][47][48][49]

Greenwald has lectured at Harvard University for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and speaks frequently across the country about his work.[50] He addressed the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding war profiteering on May 10, 2007.[51] In 2013, Greenwald went to Capitol Hill once again, to discuss weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles with lawmakers. At a Congressional briefing, Greenwald testified with the Rafiq Rehman family, the first Pakistani drone strike survivors to appear before Congress.[52] Since May 2005, Greenwald has been a contributing blogger to The Huffington Post.[53]

Selected filmography[edit]

Feature-length documentaries[edit]

Features and television movies[edit]

Documentary shorts[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Greenwald's work has earned 25 Emmy Award nominations,[54] two Golden Globe nominations,[54] the Peabody Award[54] and the Robert Wood Johnson Award.[54] He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.[2] He has been honored for his investigative film work by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California;[55] the Liberty Hill Foundation;[56] the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild;[57] Physicians for Social Responsibility;[57] Consumer Attorney's Association of Los Angeles;[54] Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy[57] and the Office of the Americas.[18]

Greenwald's films have garnered the following nominations and awards:

  • 25 Emmy Award nominations[54]
  • 4 Cable ACE Award nominations[54]
  • 2 Golden Globe nominations[54]
  • 2 DGA Nominations (1978 and 1985)
  • 8 Awards of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board.[54]
  • Directors Guild of America Award, for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials for The Burning Bed, 1984.
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for Excellence in Health and Medical Programming, for Sharing the Secret, 2000.[58]
  • The Peabody Award, for Sharing the Secret, 2000.[59]
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prism Commendation for Blonde, 2002.
  • Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute, 2002.[60]
  • Literacy in Media Award, for The Book of Ruth, 2004.
  • Laurel Award, for Outfoxed, 2008.
  • Telly Award, (Bronze), for This Brave Nation, 2009.[61]
  • Media for a Just Society, Finalist for Law and Disorder, 2013.[62]

Robert Greenwald has been the recipient of the following awards for his activism:

  • California Nurses Association, "Public Voice for Political Activism."
  • Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood Federation.
  • Office of the Americas,[63]
  • The Christopher Award,[2] 1981 (for media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit")
  • ACLU of Southern California, Garden Party Award, 2003 and 2013.[55]
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, Peacemaker Award, 2003[64]
  • The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Honors Robert Greenwald as "A Producer and Director who uses his talent and artistry to promote better understanding between people and advance the cause of peace, justice and freedom." - June 8, 2003;[57]
  • Rage for Justice, Citizen Activist of the Year, 2004.[65]
  • Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)’s City of Justice Award 2005.[57]
  • Liberty Hill Foundation's Upton Sinclair Award, 2006.[56]
  • Norman Felton and Denise Aubuchon Humanitarian Award, 2007[66]
  • Courage in Media (California) Award, 2008 and 2010[67]


  1. ^ Roberts, Jerry (5 June 2009). The Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810861381.
  2. ^ a b c d de Vila, Liza (12 November 2002). "Robert Greenwald Receives Chuck Fries Producer of the Year Award" (PDF). American Film Institute.
  3. ^ Ravo, Nick (2 April 1999). "Harold Greenwald, 88, Expert On Psychology of Prostitutes". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Greenwald Biography (1943-)". Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  5. ^ Broadway World. The People Vs. Ranchman. Retrieved August 20, 2013
  6. ^ The Village Voice. "Richard Farina: A Long Time Coming and A Long Time Gone." Published November 11th, 1971. Retrieved August 20th 2013.
  7. ^ "The Theater: A King in Darkness", Time, 1976-10-04, archived from the original on 2011-02-20, retrieved 2013-08-23
  8. ^ a b Bruguiere, Ron (2011). Collision: When Reality and Illusion Collide. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1456725259.
  9. ^ "21 Hours at Munich The ABC Sunday Night Movie". Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  10. ^ "The Burning Bed". Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  11. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 805. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  12. ^ Ahern, Louise Knott (October 21, 2009). "'The Burning Bed': A turning point in fight against domestic violence". Lansing State Journal.
  13. ^ "Xanadu". 8 August 1980. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  14. ^ Germain, David (Associated Press) (February 26, 2005). "25 Years of Razzing Hollywood's Stinkers". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Sun-Sentinel Company. p. 7D.
  15. ^ "Robert Greenwald Biography" Retrieved Oct 3, 2013.
  16. ^ NED MARTEL. "Attempts to Sort Out and Make Sense of History." New York Times. Published October 1, 2004. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  17. ^ John Anderson. Damning Portrait On War In Iraq. Newsday. Published, September 24, 2004. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Robert Greenwald".
  19. ^ Sign up to stream Unmanned: America's Drone War
  20. ^ "'Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  21. ^ "Female accusers of Trump call for Congressional investigation into misconduct". 11 December 2017. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  22. ^ Stevens, Heidi (16 November 2018). "Thank a black female journalist for standing strong in the face of Trump's scorn". Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  23. ^ "St. Louis Community Organizers Begin Push To Encourage Black Voter Turnout In 2020". St. Louis Public Radio. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  24. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (2020-01-19). "'Suppressed: The Fight to Vote': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  25. ^ "Tallahassee family featured in newest documentary on losing loved ones to COVID-19". WTXL. 2020-10-17. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  26. ^ "Florida teenager speaks out after the preventable death of her grandparents". Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  27. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The Kaji Family Speak Out on Donald Trump's COVID-19 Policy on CNN • BRAVE NEW FILMS (BNF)". YouTube.
  28. ^ "Robert Greenwald - wikipedia". Google Docs. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  29. ^ "Tom Morello Soundtracked Short Film In Honor Of George Floyd's Birthday". iHeartRadio. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  30. ^ a b Robert S. Boynton (2004-07-11). "How to Make a Guerrilla Documentary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  31. ^ Barkin, Joel. "Filmmaker Robert Greenwald". Progressive States Network.
  32. ^ "Robert Greenwald Tackles Wal-Mart: Just How Have Americans Paid for Those Low Prices?". Buzzflash. October 27, 2005.
  33. ^ "Arena Profile: Robert Greenwald". Politico.
  34. ^ Yerman, Marcia G. (27 June 2012). "The Koch Brothers Exposed' -- A Conversation With Robert Greenwald". Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  35. ^ a b Thompson, Rustin (23 September 2004). "Robert Greenwald". Moviemaker. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  36. ^ a b c Hazen, Don (12 September 2010). "50 Million Videos Viewed: A Huge Marker for Brave New Films and Robert Greenwald". Alternet. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  37. ^ a b Tryon, Chuck. "Digital distribution, participatory culture, and the transmedia documentary". Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  38. ^ a b "The ACLU and Robert Greenwald to Tell the Stories Behind the Headlines in New 10-Part Series: The ACLU Freedom Files". 16 August 2005. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  39. ^ Owens, Simon (16 September 2008). "How Greenwald's Brave New Films Spreads Its Political Message Online". PBS. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  40. ^ "Doc U Seminar: An Evening With Robert Greenwald (at his place!)". 14 May 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  41. ^ "New voting rights documentary targets #hashtag, Facebook audiences ahead of 2020 election". Los Angeles Times. 2019-09-21. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  42. ^ "Filmmaker, Activist Robert Greenwald '66 to Receive Horace Mann Award". Antioch College. 9 October 2020.
  43. ^ "Robert Greenwald to GMDers: Hold Welch to Pledge on War Funding". Green Mountain Daily. June 15, 2009.
  44. ^ "Robert Greenwald". Brave New Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 31 Aug 2015.
  45. ^ "Robert Greenwald". Charlie Rose.
  46. ^ Harris, Paul (2011-05-15). "Koch brothers under attack by leftwing film-maker". The Guardian. London.
  47. ^ "Robert Greenwald". Yahoo movies.
  48. ^ Waxman, Sharon. "Robert Greenwald Challenges JFK Actors Kinnear, Holmes to Vet Script". Brave New Films.
  49. ^ Flanders, Laura. "GRITtv with Laura Flanders is proud to feature Brave New Films content". GRITtv.
  50. ^ "Robert Greenwald Bio" Accessed Oct 4, 2013
  51. ^ "Robert Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill Testifying to Congress Now". Daily Kos. 10 May 2007.
  52. ^ McCauley, Lauren (29 October 2013). "Congressional No-Show at 'Heart-Breaking' Drone Survivor Hearing". Common Dreams.
  53. ^ "Robert Greenwald". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  54. ^ a b c d e f g h i "58th Annual Installation & Awards Dinner". Consumer Attorney Association of Los Angeles. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  55. ^ a b "Wine and Dine with Whistleblowers". ACLU of Southern California. 29 September 2013.
  56. ^ a b "Robert Greenwald To Be Honored by Liberty Hill". 27 April 2005.
  57. ^ a b c d e "Arena Profile: Robert Greenwald". Politico. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  58. ^ "Peabody/Robert Wood Johnson Award Winner Now Available; 'Behind Sharing the Secret' Distributed Throughout the United States".
  59. ^ "Sharing the Secret". GEORGE FOSTER PEABODY AWARDS. University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  60. ^ "Awards". Archived from the original on March 10, 2012.
  61. ^ "Telly Awards".
  62. ^ "The Winners of the 20th Annual Media for a Just Society Awards - National Council on Crime & Delinquency".
  63. ^ "Meet Our Board".
  64. ^ "Speakers: Robert Greenwald". The Common Good. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  65. ^ "Rage for Justics Awards". Consumer Watchdog. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  66. ^ "Past Death Penalty Focus Honorees". Death Penalty Focus. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  67. ^ Block, Wendy (29 July 2010). "Courage Awards: What You Missed". LA Progressive.

External links[edit]