Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

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“When a puppet is good and true and meaningful, it’s the soul of the puppeteer that you’re seeing.” — Martin P. Robinson, veteran Sesame Street puppeteer

Director: Constance Marks
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Running time: 75 mins

Co-director/Screenplay: Philip Shane
Producers:ConstanceMarks, James J. Miller, Corrine LaPook
Photography: James J. Miller
Editors: Philip Shane, Justin Weinstein
Music: Joel Goodman

With: Kevin Clash, Joan Ganz Cooney, Frank Oz, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin P. Robinson, Caroll Spinney, Fran Brill

Festivals: Sundance 2011

Special Jury Prize (Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2011

Being Elmo tells the inspiring story of how shy nine-year-old Kevin Clash pursued his dream of becoming a puppeteer on Sesame Street. This Sundance Special Jury Prize winner provides fun and illumination for ages nine and up. “The film takes a look behind the scenes at Kevin Clash, the big, tough-looking dude who is the heart, soul, and high-pitched voice behind the world’s most beloved baby monster. The 50-year-old puppeteer’s sense of humor and gentleness is immediately obvious (Elmo just helps channel it), and documentarian Constance Marks goes deep in her film on his inspiring story from childhood Sesame Street fan to one of its biggest talents… ‘Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?’ Through hard work, talent, and imagination, the little boy who dreamed of making people smile with his puppets found his way there, making a little-known character into a global phenomenon.” — Anthony Breznican, Entertainment Weekly

“Marks’ doc is wonderfully enhanced by an incredible timeline of home video, archival footage and TV clips illustrating the arc of Clash’s career… With six years in production… Marks was able to expertly weave together the strands of Clash’s career, combining archival sources and generous interviews with the performer and his many admirers… The priceless footage of Clash performing Elmo on TV and for live audiences gets to the core of the effusive enjoyment he takes performing for youngsters… Being Elmo is a rare documentary that will connect across generations and cultures to delight viewers worldwide for years to come.” — Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter