Ellen Spiro is a Guggenheim and two-time Rockefeller Fellow, an Emmy-award winner and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her film, Body of War, was short-listed for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category and received a Producer’s Guild award nomination. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won an audience award. Spiro and Co-Director Phil Donahue were featured on a one-hour Bill Moyers Journal special about the film.
Spiro was awarded two Gracie Awards for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Documentary for Troop 1500 from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television. She won an Emmy award for her collaboration with Karen Bernstein, Are the Kids Alright?.
Spiro directed a nationally broadcast special for NOW on PBS, Fixing the Future, with host David Brancaccio of NPR’s Marketplace. The film was extended into a feature film and screened in over 50 U.S. cities.
Spiro's films have been broadcast worldwide on PBS, HBO, BBC, CBC (Canada), SBS (Australia), NHK (Japan) and all over Europe. Her work can be found on Netflix, I-Tunes and other digital platforms.
She has served as a cinematographer on multiple documentaries including the Oscar-nominated How to Survive a Plague.
Spiro's works have pushed the boundaries of the documentary form and continue to thrive in the art world. Her films have been screened multiple at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum Biennial exhibition. She was an artist-in-residence at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy.
Spiro is the recipient of Jerome Foundation Fellowship and three ITVS/PBS contracts. She received First Prize in the USA Film Festival, a Golden Gate Award, the Prized Pieces Award from the National Black Programming Consortium and a Paul Clere Humanitarian Award of Excellence.
Her works are housed in the permanent collections of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Peabody Collection of The Paley Center for Media, the New York Public Library and the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas.
She is known for making humorous social issue films for national and international television broadcasts, as well as for theatrical release.
She studied at the University of Virginia and earned her Master’s Degree in Media Studies at S.U.N.Y Buffalo. She did post-graduate work in the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program in New York City .
She is currently a professor at the University of Texas in Austin.