Josephine Decker (born 2 April 1981, Dallas) is an American actress, filmmaker, and performance artist. As of 2020 she has directed four feature films: the experimental psychological thriller Butter on the Latch (2013), the experimental erotic thriller Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014), the experimental drama Madeline's Madeline (2018), and the semi-biographical thriller Shirley (2020). She also co-directed the documentary Bi the Way (2008) with Brittany Blockman. Decker cites as influences in her work, the films Antichrist (2009), Black Swan (2010), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Silent Light (2007), and Days of Heaven (1978), the book East of Eden, director Joe Swanberg and frequent collaborator Sarah Small. Decker grew up as a Christian, and is now a Buddhist, having practiced the religion since at least 2011.
Decker produced and directed her first short film, Naked Princeton, in 2005. In 2008, Decker co-directed the documentary Bi the Way with Brittany Blockman, which focused on bisexuality in the United States. Despite being described by Variety's Joe Leydon as a "once-over-lightly examination of an alleged cultural phenomenon", the film nevertheless went on to win the Alternative Spirit Grand Prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Decker wrote and directed her second short film, Where Are You Going, Elena?, in 2009. In May 2010, Decker attended the last day of Marina Abramovic's retrospective The Artist Is Present at MoMA. As she sat down across from Abramovic, Decker immediately disrobed and stood naked in the middle of the museum until seven security guards escorted her out over the museum no nudity policy. Decker declared that her goal was to be "as vulnerable to [Abramovic] as she constantly makes herself to us. In 2012, Decker wrote and directed the short film Me the Terrible, which was praised by Richard Brody of The New Yorker as a "wondrous short film." In 2013, Decker wrote, produced, and directed her first feature film, the experimental psychological thriller Butter on the Latch. The film garnered praise from Eric Kohn of Indiewire, who said Decker's career is "one to keep an eye on", and Peter Debruge of Variety, who noted that "... Decker has fashioned the kind of feature debut the film industry simply doesn’t support, but would do well to encourage: a visually poetic, virtually free-form groove in which emotion, rather than narrative, guides viewers through a young woman’s visit to a Balkan folk music camp." Decker was included in Filmmaker Magazine's 2013 list of 25 New Faces in Independent Film. In early 2014, she completed her second theatrical film, the experimental erotic thriller Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, starring Sophie Traub and Decker's frequent collaborator Joe Swanberg. Decker has also appeared as an actor in many independent films, including Joe Swanberg's Uncle Kent, Onur Tukel's Richard's Wedding, Saturday Morning Mystery, the romantic tragedy Loves Her Gun, and Stephen Cone's critically lauded drama film Black Box in 2013. Decker’s third feature film, Madeline's Madeline, screened at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals in early 2018. The film features Molly Parker and Miranda July, and introduces 19-year-old Helena Howard as a troubled acting student whose "class exercises become increasingly immersive and personal".