Director: Stephanie Soechtig 

Opening Date: May 9 (Radius-TWC)

Why it matters:  Soechtig’s no holds-barred documentary, exec produced by Katie Couric, Regina Scully and Laurie David, takes a magnifying glass to the food industry in America, exposing manipulative marketing practices. Following a group of families with children struggling to stay healthy and lose weight, “Fed Up” reveals what’s contributing to the obesity epidemic: 80% of the 600,000 food items at supermarkets have added sugar. The film’s biggest message: Eat more real food, and far less sugar. 

Soechtig: “The families we are following are actually anything but lazy or lacking willpower; they are some of the most motivated people I’ve ever met. They are trying so hard to make the right choices, but those choices are based on marketing claims disguised as science.”  

“Food issues have always been an important part of my life — my parents owned a restaurant growing up and when I read “Diet for a New America” in high school I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker and shed light on the truth behind the food we eat. When my partners and I started Atlas Films, our goal was to make films that inform and inspire so this was a perfect fit for us,” she says.

Soechtig continues, “I went into this film with the same preconceived stereotypes of overweight people (they’re just lazy and lack willpower). During my first interview with one of the children in our film, she lamented over all the ‘pretty clothes’ she couldn’t wear because of her weight. It might sound trivial, but it made her feel isolated and alone. It was a life-changing moment for me because I was born with one hand and have worn a prosthesis my whole life which also meant there were many ‘pretty clothes’ that I also couldn’t wear. Until I spoke with this girl I thought no one could ever relate to my struggles growing up feeling so different from anyone. The more of these kids I spoke with the more I realized how alike we were. The biggest difference though was that their struggles were all preventable. If we just had some common sense policies and practices these kids and their families wouldn’t have to struggle. This became my touchstone in making the film and really gave me a sense of purpose as well as feeling an obligation to try to change their circumstances.”