Local Foods Grocer
Winner of the Rockie, Logie and Peabody Awards
Speaker on Issues of Sustainability
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Aaron Woolf is the producer/director of the hit documentary King Corn and the filmmaker behind the acclaimed PBS specials Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City, Dying to Leave: The Global Face of Human Trafficking and Smuggling, and Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States. Other work has appeared on the Sundance and Discovery Channels and on numerous networks abroad including France’s ARTE, Italy’s RAI and Australia’s SBS. His films have won Rockie, Logie, and Peabody Awards.
Woolf graduated from Middlebury College and earned a masters in film at the University of Iowa. The bulk of his film training took place in the field, apprenticing with Peruvian director Francisco Lombardi in Lima, and on the sets of Hollywood films in Mexico City and Los Angeles where he specialized in cinematography and lighting. In the mid-1990s, Woolf turned to non-fiction storytelling, and trained his lens on individual stories that he felt touched on global trends.
Greener Grass explored Cuban-American relations through the shared national pastime of baseball, was a People Magazine pick of the year, and was praised by the Wall Street Journal, which wrote, “there’s nothing bush-league about this vivid film.” Produced in 16 countries, Dying to Leave investigated modern-day smuggling and slavery, headlined human rights festivals in Geneva and Seoul, and was featured at the Secretary’s Open Forum at the US State Department. Beyond the Motor City a ninety minute PBS broadcast in 2010, told the story of the struggle to modernize mass transit in the automotive heartland of Detroit.
Woolf’s film King Corn followed Ian Cheney and his best friend, Curt Ellis, 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. The film’s Peabody-winning findings, shared with theatergoers in 60 cities and in a PBS national broadcast, change the way audiences eat.
In the wake of the King Corn project, Woolf began to explore more direct ways of shaping America’s evolving food system by opening the Urban Rustic grocery in Brooklyn, helping to launch the Champlain Valley Agriculture Working Group in upstate New York, and co-founding the online advocacy group Food Democracy Now!
For more than ten years, Woolf has used his work in film as a springboard for a series of public speaking engagements. These appearances often feature dynamic visual media presentations and use the power of story to shed light on the human dimension of today’s policy decisions.
Woolf has spoken and conducted workshops at numerous schools including Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities, keynoted conferences for groups as diverse as Just Food and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and received a 2010 Rockefeller Foundation grant to support a national speaking tour on sustainable infrastructure. In 2011 and 2012, Woolf toured Colombia, Venezuela and Algeria invited by local United States Embassies.
Woolf has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN and NPR, and in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Congressional Quarterly and serves on the board of the Adirondack Council. He is available for multimedia lectures, post-film Q&As and workshops on documentary and advocacy, either alone or with his collaborators.