Curt Ellis is a creator of the hit documentaries KING CORN and THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE and a passionate advocate for changing the way America eats, builds, and lives. Since graduating from Yale in 2002, Ellis has built green homes in Oregon and the Adirondacks, founded the award-winning production company Wicked Delicate Films, grown 10,000 pounds of genetically modified corn, and lived to tell the tale.
KING CORN (directed by Aaron Woolf) follows Ellis and his best friend, Ian Cheney, on a yearlong odyssey to understand where their food comes from… by growing it. In what The Washington Post calls "Required viewing for anyone planning to visit a supermarket, fast-food joint, or their own refrigerator," the city-slickers learn to drive a combine, cash in on government subsidies, and homebrew high-fructose corn syrup. Their Peabody-winning findings, shared with theatergoers in 60 cities and in a PBS national broadcast, change the way audiences eat.
Ellis co-created and produced THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE (directed by Ian Cheney), a feature documentary that follows Boston's first residential "green" building through the story of the union crews who set out to construct it––and more or less succeed. Set on the colorful streets of South Boston and featuring an electro-funk soundtrack by Force Theory, THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE is a hard-edged and humorous look at how green jobs might just turn America's toughest-looking workers into softie environmentalists. Broadcast on the Sundance Channel and released in theaters, Seattle Times calls it "A balanced but incisive look at a complex issue that affects us all."
Now a Food and Society Policy Fellow with the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Ellis is talking, writing, and making documentaries about what he believes is the core problem in American culture today: we live as if the fundamentals for survival––food, water, shelter––didn't even matter. As Ellis sees it, reconnecting to the sources of our sustenance is the way to rebuild America's landscape and revive our national culture.
Ellis will be on tour this fall with his powerful follow-up to KING CORN, the 30-minute documentary BIG RIVER. Exploring the impact one acre of corn has on the ecological and human health of the people and places downstream, BIG RIVER picks up where KING CORN leaves off, challenging our assumptions about what we eat and how we live. Ellis is available to lead campus screening-and-discussion sessions with BIG RIVER, a film that traces its origins back to Ellis' college involvement in the early days of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. His visits can be extended to include a media-rich keynote presentation tracing the common thread through Ellis' diverse films: the idea that the fundamentals of food, water, and shelter are still––even in the iPhone age––what matter most.
Ellis has appeared on CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, BoingBoing, NPR, and in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Men's Journal. He is a contributing writer for Civil Eats and Culinate, and a video op-ed contributor for The New York Times. More information and a list of previous and upcoming appearances is available at the website for Wicked Delicate, the Brooklyn-based film and advocacy project of Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney, www.wickedelicate.com.