In HBO’s case, and operating on a much more powerful financial scale, their outreach campaign involves a close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Working closely with scientists and policymakers, the release of "The Weight of the Nation" was timed to coincide with a national conference on obesity and health hosted by the government itself. In just a few short weeks, the series has driven renewed national focus to the issue of obesity.
It’s clear from the buzz around "The Weight of the Nation" that the film is driving the public conversation around food and health forward quickly and powerfully. But this is just the beginning. Production is pregnancy; films launch their lives when distribution starts -- and with multiple platforms for exhibition, community screening campaigns catching fire, and filmmakers hitting the lecture circuit to share their stories for years after the premiere, the impact of "The Weight of the Nation" is only in its infancy. What reforms will the series catalyze in Washington? How will those who see the series be motivated to change their lives?
In my case, I was one of the people who experienced "King Corn" -- admittedly more deeply than others -- and decided to do something.
It was that last shot in our film that kept haunting me, that moment of realization Aaron captured on screen: my best friend and I had wanted to get our hands in the dirt and grow food, but we’d grown fast food. We had squandered our year, and we had squandered a square of dirt that held some of the richest topsoil in the world.
I can’t claim that "King Corn" or "The Weight of the Nation" or any film will change the world -- but every film changes lives. And when our first class of FoodCorps service members stand back from their school gardens at harvest-time this summer, I think they’ll realize they’ve been changed too -- as they look out over a square of dirt they’re proud of.
Curt Ellis is the co-creator of the documentaries "King Corn" (a co-production of Mosaic Films Incorporated and ITVS), "The Greening of Southie," "Big River," "Truck Farm," and the upcoming film "The Search for General Tso." He is also co-founder and Executive Director of FoodCorps, the national service program for healthy school food.