Directed and Produced by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue

Body of War, shortlisted for an Oscar nomination, is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine - wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week.

Body of War is Tomas' coming home story as he evolves into a new person, coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro; Karen Bernstein is co-producer; and Bernadine Colish serves as editor. The film features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a naked and honest portrayal of what it's like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.

Bill Moyers interview with Ellen and Phil:

Q & A with Ellen Spiro and Bill Moyers

Watch Trailer & Purchase Film

Eddie Vedder, Tomas Young, Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue at the Premiere of "Body of War" at the Toronto International Film Festival

Eddie Vedder, Tomas Young, Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue at the Premiere of "Body of War" at the Toronto International Film Festival


"No More", Music Video directed by Ellen Spiro, with original song by Eddie Vedder


Producer / Director: Ellen Spiro

Do people exist to serve the economy, or should the economy exist to serve the people? In Fixing the Future, host David Brancaccio, of public radio's Marketplace and NOW on PBS, visits people and organizations across America that are attempting a revolution: the reinvention of the American economy.

There are thousands of initiatives around the country - from farmers markets to local business networks - aimed at creating sustainable, local economies. Fixing the Future was broadcast nationally on PBS.

TROOP 1500

Producer / Director: Ellen Spiro

An estimated 1.5 million children have incarcerated parents and 90 percent of female inmates are single parents. Their daughters are six times more likely to land in the juvenile justice system. TROOP 1500 poignantly reveals how an inspired yet controversial effort by the 90+ year old Girl Scouts Organization is working to help these at-risk young girls deal with their unique circumstances and break the cycle of crime within families.

Listen to excerpts from the film featuring Ira Glass on "This American Life"

Read director's statement on Troop 1500

Girl Scouts from Troop 1500

Girl Scouts from Troop 1500


Director: Ellen Spiro
Narration Written by Allan Gurganus
Co-produced by Vivian Kleiman and Pandora Zolotor

With her dog Sam (the narrator of the film) and her 1964 Airstream trailer, Spiro joins an adventurous community of roamers and loners on wheels who live on the road full time< by economic neccessity, pleasure or both. Behind the camera and behind the wheel, Spiro documents a unique world of vintage trailers, vintage dogs and vintage people, where the spirit of the moment collides with stories from the past.

Awards and Grants
Roam Sweet Home was awarded Grand Prize at the Big Muddy Film Festival and received the National Media Owl award presented by Gene Siskel for the Retirement Research Foundation. Roam was broadcast nationally on PBS.

Roam Sweet Home is an international co-production of the Independent Television Service and Channel Four UK. Additional funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund.

“I can’t say we’re free spirits, we just know how the system works and we’re side-stepping the system” - Gypsy George in Roam Sweet Home


Director / Producer:
Ellen Spiro and Karen Bernstein

With unprecedented access to families and institutions who are forced to deal with the crisis of minimal mental health care in Texas, Are The Kids Alright? is a one-hour television documentary to air on statewide PBS (lead station, Houston PBS)

Are The Kids Alright? portrays the stresses and heartaches confronting families struggling to get help for their children through the stories of children, therapists, parents, and judges, who confront these issues daily. This is the first television documentary in Texas to address issues surrounding children's mental health care and is the product of nearly two years of research and interviews to understand the multifaceted issues and tough decisions confronting the state's mental health system.

Unlike physical illness, mental illness often can be difficult to identify. Families from a wide variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, a judge, state legislative lobbyists, politicians, probation officers, state workers, and psychiatrists, are intimately shot in roving DVCAM as they are in the midst of their daily lives.

Audiences will experience the complexities and obstacles confronting the overburdened state mental health system and the difficult questions facing both families and policymakers in searching for resources and remedies. 

Are The Kids Alright? won an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary in 2005.


Director: Ellen Spiro Producer: Karen Bernstein

ATOMIC ED AND THE BLACK HOLE tells the story of a former Los Alamos National Laboratory machinist-- turned atomic junk collector-- known as Atomic Ed. Over 30 years ago, Ed quit his job making "better" atomic bombs and he began collecting what he calls "nuclear waste", non-radioactive high-tech discards from the Los Alamos National Laboratory which are auctioned off dirt cheap every month in a gigantic government yard sale.

As the self-appointed curator of an unofficial museum of the nuclear age called "The Black Hole", Ed reveals a history of government waste that was literally thrown in a trash heap. By transforming his ironic junkyard into a genuine museum, Ed hopes to preserve the artifacts of Los Alamos' hidden history.

Awards and Grants
Awards: Best Short-Form Documentary, South by Southwest Film Festival
Melbourne International Film Festival
Hot Springs International Film Festival
Peace and Justice Filmmaker's Award
Audience Award and Judges Competition First Place Award, Alibi Short Film Fiesta, Albuquerque
San Francisco Documentary Festival
SITE Santa Fe


Director: Ellen Spiro
Co-produced by Kate Horsfield

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK AND PEDAL to the metal, Ellen Spiro and dog Sam travel the backroads of the South documenting gay life in the boonies and beyond. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignantly moving, and always enthralling, the mood of GREETINGS FROM OUT HERE changes as often as does the weather on the backroads of Spiro's South - - with its hubcap decorated shacks, its embracing landscapes, its hilariously improbable place names, and most of all its extraordinary people. National PBS Broadcast.

Awards and Grants
Documentary Achievement Award, American Motion Picture Society
Jury Award, New York Expo of Film and Video
First Prize, Non-fiction, USA Film Festival
Golden Gate Award, Best Television Documentary, San Francisco Int'l Film Festival
Best Documentary Award, Atlanta Film and Video Festival
Best of Festival Award, New England Film and Video Festival
Grand Prize, Chicago International Gay Film and Video Festival
ITVS (Independent Television Service) Project Grant


Director: Ellen Spiro

IN A SOUTH CAROLINA beauty shop, where a condom display is as natural as a basket of curlers DiAna not only styles hair but also stages Tupperware-style parties to dispense information on safer sex. Winner of over twelve awards and honors. Regional PBS Broadcasts.

Awards and Grants
First Prize, National Black Programming Consortium Prized Pieces
Juror's Award, Black Maria Film and Video Festival
Silver Apple Award, National Educational Film and Video Festival
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, Honorable Mention
Australian International Film and Video Festival, Honorable Mention
Atlanta Film and Video Festival, Best Activist Video Award
Charlotte Film and Video Festival, Silver Medal Award
Art Matters Inc., Unrestricted Fellowship
New York State Council on the Arts
Media Arts Grant Media Bureau, Finishing Funds