Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. His most recent films include THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO, released by IFC Films / Sundance Selects, and the forthcoming documentary film BLUESPACE, which explores the terraforming of Mars and the waterways of New York City.



Ian grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University.

After graduate school, Ian directed the short documentary TWO BUCKETS, about a reclusive loner living in the woods of mid-coast Maine. TWO BUCKETS won a WGBH-Boston “6:55” grant and was broadcast on WGBH-Boston in 2006.

From 2003-2006, Ianco-created, co-produced and starred in the feature documentary KING CORN, about the role of corn in America’s epidemics of obesity and type-II diabetes. Premiering on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2008, KING CORN was released theatrically in 60 cities, awarded a George Foster Peabody Award in 2009, and followed by a short sequel entitled BIG RIVER.

Ian subsequently directed the feature documentary THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE, about the men and women who built Boston’s first residential green building. SOUTHIE aired as the 2008 Earth Day broadcast on The Sundance Channel, was released theatrically in a dozen cities, and was subsequently featured in The New Yorker and on Good Morning America.

Ian‘s film TRUCK FARM explored urban agriculture through the story of an old pickup truck with a garden growing in its bed. TRUCK FARM screened in over 150 communities, won numerous film festival awards, and inspired a nationwide school garden contest and a fleet of 20+ mobile gardens in cities around the country. The film was broadcast on PBS in 2012. 

Ian was also a contributing cinematographer on the Oscar-short-listed documentary UNDER OUR SKIN, and was the outreach producer for Kaiulani Lee’s film about pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, A SENSE OF WONDER.  In 2011, Ian and longtime collaborator Curt Ellis were given the prestigious Heinz Award for their work in environmental advocacy.

Ian’s film THE CITY DARK is a feature documentary about light pollution and the disappearing night, which premiered in competition at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, 2011, and theatrically at New York’s IFC Centerin January 2012. A New York Times Critics’ Pick, the film aired nationwide on PBS' POV and was nominated for a 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Science & Technology Documentary. 

Ian's production THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO, a collaboration with author Jennifer 8 Lee, was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York State Council of the Arts, and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014 before being released theatrically by IFC Films / Sundance Selects in 2015.

Ian is also a co-founder of FoodCorps, an Americorps farm-to-school program aimed at improving school nutrition. He has served on film festival juries and panels including South by Southwest, the Wisconsin Film Festival, and the Camden International Film Festival. Since 2011 he has been a visiting professor at the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Italy. Ian travels frequently to show his films, lead workshops, and give talks about sustainability, astronomy, and the human relationship to the natural world.

From 2014-2015 Ian was a Knight fellow at MIT. His most recent film, BLUESPACE, explores the terraforming of Mars and the waterways of New York City. It will premiere in fall of 2015.  With his wife Amanda Murray, Ian lives in western Massachusetts.