Wednesday, April 27, 2011

IFFBoston 2011 opening night: BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER'S JOURNEY

IFFB | site | clip
Some quick rambling before the afterglow fades...

Just an amazing, heartwarming film about a most remarkable, kind, and talented person and the way his passion and creations have touched millions. The documentary tells the story of Kevin Clash, the man who would be Elmo. As a childhood fan of Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street, Kevin began fabricating puppet characters of his own, then staged his own puppet shows in the back yard to entertain neighborhood kids, and, once discovered by a local children's television program, began a professional career as a teenaged puppeteer. His passion would ultimately lead him to become part of the shows he loved as a child, allowing him to learn from and work with his creative idols, including Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Kermit Love.

His path into the working world of a puppeteer, in public and primetime television as well as film, provides a very interesting window into the craft of puppetry as well as the steadily growing and changing constellation of puppeteer stars, visionaries, and teachers.

The post-show Q&A, featuring filmmakers and *both* subjects—Kevin Clash and Elmo—was a wonderful bonus round! Kevin and Elmo entertained while fielding questions and requests—Dance! Hug! Do Barry White!—and director Constance Marks gave the room an unofficial best audience award. Y'know, I'd typically be skeptical of that sort of talk except for the massive collective gasp that arose mid-film when Clash begins to discuss his being invited to work on Jim Henson's DARK CRYSTAL. Ayep. IFFBoston: moviegoers, filmlovers, nerds, and tonight, some puppeteers. That's how we roll.

I got a little bit sad then that I couldn't work the Brattle's CRYSTAL screening in a couple weeks back. I *did* get to see the LABYRINTH half of that double feature, which Clash worked on, altho I didn't know it at the time.

I *love* that some of the footage in the documentary was lifted from an episode of BIG BLUE MARBLE. I usedta love that show, on in the wee pajama'd hours of Saturday morning... along with VEGETABLE SOUP! Also figuring prominently is GREAT SPACE COASTER, which is cool I guess, but in all honesty, I'm really more of a NEW ZOO REVUE kinda guy.

During Q&A someone asked about where the film will go from here and the director said that she couldn't say for certain but the film should be getting distribution via theaters and television as well as DVD. She also referred to the changing landscape of copyright (I think that's what she said?) as being some kind of hurdle. She hopes that they'll be able to make a big announcement in the next two weeks via their website, tho ( I hope it plays in theaters, cuz this film is a joy to experience with an audience. And you don't have to be familiar with or a fan of the man's red-haired monstrous work. It's Kevin Clash's story, not Elmo's, that's so inspiring. SEE IT! =)

A couple of snaps from the Q&A...

Director Constance Marks and puppeteer extraordinaire Kevin Clash.

Constance and Kevin are joined by the big E.

Keep on keepin on~

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