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Adam Curtis at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2005
Adam Curtis (born 1955) is a British television documentary maker who has during the course of his television career worked as a writer, producer, director and narrator. He currently works for BBC Current Affairs. His programmes express a clear (and sometimes controversial) opinion about their subject, and he narrates the programmes himself.
After attending Sevenoaks School (a member of the 'art room' that produced musicians, Tom Greenhalgh, Kevin Lycett and Mark White of The Mekons along with Andy Gill and Jon King of the Gang of Four) Curtis studied for a BA in Human Sciences (which included introductory courses in genetics, psychology, politics, geography and elementary statistics) at the University of Oxford. Curtis taught politics there, but left for a career in television. He obtained a post on That's Life!, where he learned to find humour in serious subjects.
Curtis's intensive use of archive footage is a distinctive touch of his. An Observer profile said:
- Curtis has a remarkable feel for the serendipity of such moments, and an obsessive skill in locating them. "That kind of footage shows just how dull I can be," he admits, a little glumly. "The BBC has an archive of all these tapes where they have just dumped all the news items they have ever shown. One tape for every three months. So what you get is this odd collage, an accidental treasure trove. You sit in a darkened room, watch all these little news moments, and look for connections."
The Observer adds "if there has been a theme in Curtis's work since, it has been to look at how different elites have tried to impose an ideology on their times, and the tragi-comic consequences of those attempts."
Curtis received the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2005. In 2006 he was given the Alan Clarke Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television at the British Academy Television Awards.
Curtis was reported to be on the editorial 'steering committee' of the weekly email gossip newsletter Popbitch, but the editor of the newsletter clarified that in fact he was simply a "friend" of the magazine..
Curtis "trademark" titles
- 1984: Inquiry: The Great British Housing Disaster 
- 1988: An Ocean Apart. Episode One "Hats Off to Mr. Wilson” (concerning the process by which the United States was involved in the First World War).
- 1992: Pandora's Box examined the dangers of technocratic and political rationality. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series. 
- 1995: The Living Dead investigated the way that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used by politicians and others.
- 1996: 25 Million Pounds a study of Nick Leeson and the collapse of Barings Bank. Won the Best Science and Nature Documentary in the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival.
- 1997: The Way of All Flesh tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, the "woman who will never die". It received the 1997 Golden Gate Award.
- 1999: The Mayfair Set looked at how buccaneer capitalists were allowed to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, focusing on the rise of Colonel David Stirling, Jim Slater, James Goldsmith, and Tiny Rowland, all members of The Clermont club in the 1960s. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series or Strand in 2000.
- 2002: The Century of the Self (BBC Four) documented how Freud's discoveries concerning the unconscious led to Edward Bernays' development of public relations, the use of desire over need and self-actualisation as a means of achieving economic growth and the political control of population. It received the Broadcast Award for Best Documentary Series and the Longman/History Today Awards for Historical Film of the Year. It was released in the US through art house cinemas and was picked as the fourth best movie of 2005 by Entertainment Weekly.
- 2004: The Power of Nightmares (BBC Two) suggested a parallel between the rise of Islamism in the Arab world and Neoconservatism in the United States in that both needed to inflate a myth of a dangerous enemy in order to draw people to support them. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series in 2004.
- 2007: The Trap — What Happened to our Dream of Freedom (BBC Two - working title Cold Cold Heart), a series regarding the modern concept of freedom. 
- 2007: Curtis provided a short documentary for a section about television news reporters in the third episode of the fourth series of the BBC Four programme Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe.
- 2009: Curtis provided another mini-documentary for Charlie Brooker and his new current affairs programme Newswipe, this time focusing on the rise of "Oh Dear"-ism
- 2009: July 2 saw the release of a new mixed media documentary, called It Felt Like A Kiss
- 2010: Curtis provided a third mini-documentary on paranoia and moral panics for the fourth episode in the second series of Charlie Brooker's Newswipe.