Ariel Elia was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He grew up in Monaco, where he graduated with a French Baccalaureate with Honors, after which he went on to attend Tufts University in Boston. Ariel fell in love with the film making process during his second year at Tufts and that following summer enrolled at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts for film, where he shot his first short films using an Arriflex 16-S  16mm camera and edited on a Steenbeck flatbed. 

After majoring from Tufts in International Letters and Visual Studies in 2008, Ariel worked for renowned documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles as an assistant editor in Harlem. In 2009, he attended Columbia’s Graduate School of the Arts. While at Columbia, Ariel produced several short films, two of which he wrote and shot in his native Brazil: Moeda de Rua and Sequestro. Ariel’s thesis film, The Exit Room, went on to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013 as well as Telluride, Austin and Woodstock film festivals amongst many others. As he was finishing his Masters in Fine Arts, he co-founded Empyrean Pictures, a multi-picture film production and financing company. At Empyrean, Ariel produced his first feature, Sunlight Jr, starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 and was subsequently bought by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Gravitas. Ariel was recently executive producer on Rio, I Love You, part of the cities of love franchise, and is co-producer on Bingo: King of the Mornings, Brazil's Oscar contender for best foreign film.

Ariel directed an Air France commercial on spec, which was the winning entry in a contest hosted by crowdfunding website Zooppa. Its purpose was to commemorate the airline's 80th anniversary. Ariel recently directed two videos for renowned EDM artist Kygo to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Ariel currently resides in New York, where he is writing his first narrative feature while pursuing commercial and music video work on his path to becoming a feature film director.