There’s a new, worthy addition to the social action documentary genre, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis’ “King Corn.” This is no fist-waving, rage-filled exposé; it quietly investigates what Michael Pollan made famous in The Omnivore’s Dilemma (and what Francis Moore Lappé also discussed years ago in Diet for a Small Planet): corn dominates our agricultural landscape in a very creepy way.
The open-faced and amiable Cheney and Ellis met in college, and later realized that both of their great-grandfathers were from the same small farming town, Greene, Iowa. The town they return to, in order to grow an acre of the local crop, is not the family farm friendly place it was in their ancestors’ time. Instead of families toiling together in the fields, they find farmers who use tremendous machinery to do their work for them (like, tilling, planting, and chemical spraying), then sit around and wait for the growth of thousands of acres of a product that’s only edible when it’s processed. As Pollan explains in a cameo, these farmers are growing and growing, but can’t feed themselves. The shots of mountains of surplus corn are chilling.
The film has been playing the festival circuit, and now is opening in theatres across the country:
NYC: Oct 12th
DC and Boston: Oct 19th
LA: Oct 26th
San Fran and Berkeley: Nov 2nd
If you’ve always wanted to watch two dudes make high fructose corn syrup in their kitchen, you’ve come to the right place. Read more about how the film came to be, in The New York Times.