KING CORN is a fun and crusading journey into the digestive tract of our fast food nation where one ultra-industrial, pesticide-laden, heavily-subsidized commodity dominates the food pyramid from top to bottom corn. Fueled by curiosity and a dash of naivete, college buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis return to their ancestral home of Greene, Iowa to figure out how a modest kernel conquered America.
With the help of some real farmers, oodles of fertilizer and government aide, and some genetically modified seeds, the friends manage to grow one acre of corn. Along the way, they unlock the hilarious absurdities and scary but hidden truths about America s modern food system in this engrossing and eye-opening documentary.
A graceful and frequently humorous film that captures the idiosyncrasies of its characters and never hectors (Salon), KING CORN shows how and why whenever you eat a hamburger or drink a soda, you re really consuming ... corn.
Picking up where Super Size Me
left off, King Corn
examines America's health woes through the multifaceted lens of one humble grain. Director Aaron Woolf and co-writers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis offer irrefutable proof that the US is virtually drowning in the stuff. Corn meal, corn starch, hydrologized corn protein, and high fructose corn syrup fuel a multitude of products, from soft drinks to hamburgers. The starchy vegetable grows with ease and government subsidies insure over-abundant production. Woolf documents the 11-month effort of college friends Cheney and Ellis, who trace their ancestry to the same small Iowa town, to raise their own crop. After finding a farmer willing to lend them an acre, they meet with agronomists, historians, and other experts before plowing, seeding, and spraying. Prior to harvesting, the easygoing Yale grads travel to Colorado to compare the grass-fed cattle of yore with today's corn-fed counterparts; then to New York to explore the links between corn syrup, obesity, and diabetes. With assistance from author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma
), a whimsical score, and stop-motion animation--farm toys and corn kernels--Woolf and associates bring biochemistry to vivid life. On a micro level, this genial eye-opener celebrates friends and farmers; on a macro level, King Corn
bemoans the subsidies and genetic modifications that have turned a formerly protein-filled product into the fatty "yellow dent no. 2." Bonus features include a music video, photo gallery, and "The Lost Basement Lectures," an amusingly fake instructional movie about the aims of agriculture. --Kathleen C. Fennessy