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Robert Greenwald
Born August 28, 1945 (1945-08-28) (age 64)
New York City, U.S.
Official website

Robert Greenwald (born August 28, 1945) is an American film director, film producer, and political activist, noted in the 2000s for his documentaries critical of Fox News and of the George W. Bush administration, as well as numerous award-winning television movies from the 1980s and 1990s.


Early life

Greenwald was born and raised in New York City, the son of Ruth and Harold Greenwald.[1] He attended the city's High School of Performing Arts. He was active in New York theater, directing the plays 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.[1][2]

Television and feature film career

Greenwald then moved to Los Angeles, where he launched a successful career as a director for television.

In 1977, he received his first of three Emmy Award nominations for producing the television movie 21 Hours at Munich about the massacre at the 1972 Olympics. His next Emmy nomination came in 1984 for directing The Burning Bed, the critically-acclaimed television movie starring Farrah Fawcett about domestic abuse. During this period he produced or directed many television movies; The New York Times would later characterize this work as "commercially respectable B-list movies".[3]

Greenwald's first foray into feature films, directing Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu (1980), was not as successful—the film was a critical and commercial failure, but later became a cult classic and the basis for a Broadway musical.[4][5]Years later, he returned to making features, producing and directing Breaking Up (1997), starring Salma Hayek and Russell Crowe, as well as Steal This Movie! (2000), the well-received biopic of 1960s and 1970s activist Abbie Hoffman.

Documentary work

After Steal This Movie!, Greenwald turned toward making issues-oriented documentary films, most notably Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism (2004). His 2006 full-length documentary, Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers, examines corporate business and profits behind the War in Iraq. Greenwald was also the director and producer of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), about the impact the retail chain has had on American communities. Greenwald's approach has been to adapt the principles of guerrilla filmmaking to political documentaries, using small budgets and short shooting schedules to produce timely films[3] and then distributing them on DVDs or the Internet in affiliation with politically sympathetic groups such as[3]

He executive-produced three political documentaries known as "The Un Trilogy": Unprecedented: The 2000 Election, Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2003), which Greenwald also directed, and Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties.

Greenwald is the founder of Brave New Films, a media company that has published additional documentary films such as Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, The Big Buy: Tom Delay's Stolen Congress, and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Brave New Films has also released a pair of television series entitled ACLU Freedom Files and The Sierra Club Chronicles. Brave New Films has recently formed a partnership with The Young Turks to provide live coverage of political events via streaming video.


Videos on 2008 presidential candidates

After producing theatrical and TV movies for several decades, Greenwald became interested in the potential of Internet videos, published on YouTube, to reach a global audience, with much lower production costs. Greenwald said:

We did have an a-ha moment. I’d finished the film Iraq for Sale, which is about war profiteering. We took a little piece, based on an ad that Halliburton had out. We hacked their ad, changed it around, and used it to tell people to watch Iraq for Sale. We put it on this new thing called YouTube. In three days, there were 11,000 views. I was staggered. People found it, and we didn’t do anything.[6]

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Greenwald has made a series of short viral videos, the first of which are "Fox Attacks: Obama" and "The Real McCain". The former video was seen 225,000 times on its first week on YouTube.[7]

On September 4, 2007, he issued the first of four additional viral videos, called The REAL Rudy, targeting what Greenwald claims are myths surrounding the reputation and record of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and his handling of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[8] The credits page offers "very special thanks" to activist Sally Regenhard, who is a mother of a New York firefighter killed in the September 11 attacks.[9] Released installments include "The Real Rudy: Command Center"[10] and "The Real Rudy: Mistakes in 30 Seconds".[11]

On May 18, 2008, he released The Real McCain 2. Within a week the video had attracted over 1.2 million views on youtube alone.

Greenwald has also made short videos on other subjects, such as 2007's "Fox Attacks: The Environment", which garnered 380,000 YouTube views in its first three weeks and was used as part of a campaign to get Home Depot to withdraw advertising from Fox News.[12]

Greenwald has lectured at Harvard University for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and speaks frequently across the country about his work. Since May 2005, Greenwald has been a contributing blogger to The Huffington Post.[13]


Greenwald's films have garnered 25 Emmy Award nominations, four CableACE Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Award, and eight Awards of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.

For his activism, Greenwald has been honored by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the New Roads School, Consumer Attorney’s Association of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Office of the Americas. He is co-founder (with actor Mike Farrell) of Artists for Winning Without War, whose purpose is to advance progressive causes and voice opposition to the Iraq War.

Selected filmography

  • 21 Hours at Munich (1977) (producer)
  • Xanadu (1980) (director)
  • The Burning Bed (1984) (director)
  • Shattered Spirits (1986) (director)
  • Sweet Hearts Dance (1988)
  • Hear No Evil (director)
  • Breaking Up (1997) (director/producer)
  • Steal This Movie (2000) (director/producer)
  • Unprecedented: the 2000 Presidential Election (2002) (executive producer)
  • Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004) (director/producer)
  • Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties (2004) (executive producer)
  • Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004) (director/producer)
  • Beach Girls (2005 Lifetime mini-series) (producer)
  • Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005) (director/producer)
  • Stop The Falsiness (2006) (executive producer)
  • The Big Buy: Tom Delay's Stolen Congress (2006) (producer)
  • Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006) (director/producer)
  • "The Real McCain" (2007) (director/producer)
  • "Fox Attacks: Black America" (2007) (director/producer)
  • "Fox Attacks: Obama" (2007) (director/producer)
  • "Fox Attacks: Iran" (2007) (director/producer)
  • The REAL Rudy (2007) (director)
  • "Fox Attacks: Decency" (2007) (director)
  • "Fox Attacks: The Environment" (2007) (director)
  • "Rethink Afghanistan" (2009) (director)
  • Sick for Profit (2009) (director)


  1. ^ a b "Robert Greenwald Biography (1943-)". Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  2. ^ "The Theater: A King in Darkness", Time, 1976-10-04,,9171,918426,00.html, retrieved 2009-01-03 
  3. ^ a b c Robert S. Boynton (2004-07-11). "How to Make a Guerrilla Documentary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  4. ^ "Xanadu". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  5. ^ "Xanadu (1980) – Box office / business". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  6. ^ Kirsner, Scott (2009) (in English). Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age. Boston, MA: CinemaTech Books. p. 51. ISBN 1442100745. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ The REAL Rudy
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Andrew Adam Newman (2007-07-30). "Environmentalists Push, but Home Depot Refuses to Drop Ads on Fox News". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  13. ^ "Robert Greenwald". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 

External links


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