Madeline's Madeline

Sometimes Madeline is a cat, sometimes a turtle. But even when she’s Madeline, it’s hard to tell if she’s just playing the role of Madeline. In the eyes of her anxious mother (Miranda July), she is a vulnerable creature whose obvious mental disorder requires care and medical treatment. But on stage, at the theatre workshop run by the extremely demanding, sometimes even reckless Evangeline (Molly Parker), Madeline is strong, impressive – a force of nature.
Director Josephine Decker equally demands everything of her fantastic actress, Helena Howard. Her third feature film sounds out both the healing and potentially destructive powers of performance, what happens when you play around with roles and identities. Like Madeline herself, Madeline's Madeline remains ambiguous. Do we really need to define what’s a mental illness and what is simply the rebelliousness of a teenager? How do we draw the line between love and overprotectiveness? In a legitimate artistic process in which everyone is giving and taking, where lies the threshold to exploitation? Does creativity even exist without destruction?
by Josephine Decker
with Helena Howard, Miranda July, Molly Parker, Okwui Okpokwasili, Sunita Mani, Felipe Bonilla, Lisa Tharps, Curtiss Cooke, Reynaldo Piniella, Myra Lucretia Taylor
USA 2018 English 93’ Colour


  • Helena Howard (Madeline)
  • Miranda July (Regina)
  • Molly Parker (Evangeline)
  • Okwui Okpokwasili (Nurse, KK)
  • Sunita Mani (Assistant Max)
  • Felipe Bonilla (Santos, Cousin Elmer)
  • Lisa Tharps (Laura)
  • Curtiss Cooke (George)
  • Reynaldo Piniella (Jaime)
  • Myra Lucretia Taylor (Kaila)


Written and Directed by Josephine Decker
Cinematography Ashley Connor
Editing Josephine Decker, Harrison Atkins
Music Caroline Shaw
Sound Design Martin Hernandez, Alejandro Quevedo
Sound Dennis Rainaldi
Production Design Charlotte Royer
Producers Krista Parris Parris Pictures, Elizabeth Rao

World sales

Visit Films

Produced by

Parris Pictures

Josephine Decker

Josephine Decker’s feature film Shirley recently had its world premiere at Sundance in 2020 where she won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking. Madeline’s Madeline had its world premiere at Sundance in 2018, and went on to screen at the Berlinale. Her first two narrative features premiered in the Berlinale Forum in 2014. She also explores collaborative storytelling via TV directing, documentary making, performance art, accordion-playing, acting, teaching at CalArts and Princeton University, and leading artist residencies. She was born in London in 1981.

Filmography (selection)

2005 Naked Princeton; 29 min. · Naked Princeton; short film 2008 Bi the Way; documentary · Bi the Way; 85 min., co-directed by Brittany Blockman 2009 Where Are You Going, Elena?; short film 2011 Me the Terrible; 11 min. 2014 Butter on the Latch; 72 min., Forum 2014 2010 Sqeezebox; short film 2014 Thou Wast Mild and Lovely; 76 min., Forum 2014 2012 Me the Terrible; short film 2017 The Nothing is Coming; 10 min. 2013 Butter on the Latch 2014 Thou Wast Mild and Lovely 2017 Flames; documentary · Mosaic 2018 Madeline’s Madeline · The Mask Task; short film 2020 Shirley

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020