Maggie Growls

A film by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater

2002 | 56 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 03815


MAGGIE GROWLS is a portrait of the amazing, canny, lusty, charming and unstoppable Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995), who founded the Gray Panthers (the nation’s leading progressive senior advocacy organization) in 1970 after being forced to retire from a job she loved at the age of 65. Her outrage and determination fueled a political chain reaction that forever changed the lives of older Americans, repealing mandatory retirement laws and proving that “old” is not a dirty word. Out of what Ralph Nader called “the most significant retirement in modern American history,” Maggie created one of the most potent social movements of the century – one that was committed to justice, peace and fairness to all, regardless of age. Her defiant “panther growl” and dramatic slogan “Do something outrageous every day” launched nothing less than a contemporary cultural revolution, both in terms of redefining the meaning of age and through her insistence on “young and old together.” "Maggie Growls" looks at the forces that shaped the movement as well as its leader, using Maggie’s life as a lens through which to examine the intertwined issues of social reform and aging in America. This inspiring documentary is an important addition to courses in American Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Gerontology and Sociology.

This film is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).


“Once is not enough! This brilliant and sensitive documentary of a self-professed 'wrinkled radical' educates as it inspires. The film is a beautifully crafted tribute to Maggie Kuhn's loving spirit, her irreverent and unconventional tactics, and her undying activism that changed the face of aging forever in America."

Stephen McConnell, President & CEO Alzheimer's Association

“…captures the spirit and soul of the Gray Panthers and why we continue to grow and growl today…She taught us that controlled outrage does truly make a difference.”

Tim Fuller, National Executive Director Gray Panthers

“…a must for historians, educators, gerontologists and lay people alike…This film chronicle of her activism is as cogent, impassioned and human as the woman herself.”

Dave Taylor, Executive Director Presbyterian Senior Services

“Inspiring…an excellent resource…looks at the forces that shaped the [Gray Panthers] movement as well as its leader, using Maggie’s life as a lens through which to examine the intertwined issues of social reform and aging in America. An important addition to the home library and appropriate for courses in American Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Gerontology, and Sociology.”

The Gerontologist

“An informative and inspiring portrait. [Maggie’s] charisma and calculated outrageousness are well captured in this film through footage from different periods of her old age…can be put to good use in women’s studies courses.”

NWSA journal


  • Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media


Barbara Attie

Barbara Attie has worked with Janet Goldwater for many years. They are recipients of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Since 1990, Attie and Goldwater have collaborated on award-winning documentaries for national and international broadcast.

Barbara Attie produced and directed, DARING TO RESIST (with Martha Lubell), about three teenage girls in the anti-Nazi resistance, narrated by Janeane Garofalo. Broadcast nationally on PBS in 2000 and distributed by Women Make Movies. She also produced RUFUS JONES: A LUMINOUS LIFE (with Sharon Mullally, 2001), a profile of a leading Quaker who co- founded the American Friends Service Committee. Lastly, Attie produced SKIN AND INK with Maureen Wellner and Nora Monroe, 1989), an exploration of the tattoo culture.

Attie studied architecture and worked as a medical photographer before earning an MFA in film and media arts from Temple University in 1996. (01/20)

Janet Goldwater

Janet Goldwater has collaborated with Barbara Attie on award-winning documentaries for national and international broadcast, as well as wide-spread educational and advocacy use, since 1990. From the start, their work focused on women and girls and the complex health and social justice issues facing them. It has been their mission to use the documentary medium to empower and educate women and girls and gain support for their empowerment through awareness in the larger community. We have developed a deep sense of responsibility to the communities affected by the issues in our films. During production we seek to employ members of the communities we depict and empower these individuals to represent the documentary, and the issues, in the years following completion. In 2005, Goldwater and Attie were awarded a joint Pew Fellowship in the Arts. They have also been honored with the Leeway Transformation Award, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships and many documentary festival awards. They have four national PBS broadcasts to their credit. In February 2011, MRS. GOUNDO’S DAUGHTER, a searing documentary about a Malian woman seeking asylum in the US to protect her daughter from female genital cutting, was broadcast nationally as part of PBS’ AfroPop series and continues to screen at human rights festivals and in classrooms around the world. Rosita, the story of a 9-year-old Nicaraguan girl whose rape and pregnancy resulted in a political and religious uproar that resonated across Latin America, was broadcast on HBO Latin America. MAGGIE GROWLS, a whimsical biography of Gray Panther founder Maggie Kuhn, was selected to launch PBS’ Independent Lens series in 2003. Other films include LANDOWSKA: UNCOMMON VISIONARY; 
I WITNESS: SHOT DOWN IN PENSACOLA; and MOTHERLESS: A LEGACY OF LOSS FROM ILLEGAL ABORTION. Goldwater earned a BA in art history from New College and an MFA in photography and graphic design from Boston University. Before beginning a filmmaking collaboration with Attie in 1990, she worked and taught as a photographer and graphic designer. (8/14)


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