Film festivals are essentially a collection of films you’ve never heard of, and will probably not get the chance to see unless you live in L.A. or New York. But, now with Netflix and iTunes, films are so much more accessible to us peasants. So, I see festival coverage as, “Hey! You probably won’t get to see this in the theater, but it’s good, so when it pops up on the instant queue you should watch it”.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey is one such film. It created buzz at Sundance and will undoubtedly continue to do so as it makes its way through the festival circuit. This doc had all the warm fuzzies (I couldn’t think of a way around that) usually reserved for the inspirational sports genre. The puppeteer, Kevin Clash, has a similar story. Just a kid from Baltimore who was fascinated by the likes of Jim Henson and Captain Kangaroo, he started making puppets out of materials he found around his house. From there, his story is of passion and drive, mixed with some serious good fortune.
It was funny being in a theater of 600-plus people, average age being somewhere in the mid-30s, and everyone becoming giddy whenever Elmo was on screen. Have to admit, I was crying within the first two minutes. Clash took over the character of Elmo from another puppeteer on Sesame Street and when he did, he said he thought it was important to come up with what Elmo was. “Love” was the simple answer. Cue waterworks.