Premiering already with a lot of buzz at HotDocs is a new documentary on the most popular children’s show EVER on television. STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET is an overall enjoyable documentary experience on the legendary TV show Sesame Street with a light, breezy tone and featuring a lot of inspiring creators that I hope will inspire new artists today.
Starting at its inception via Joan Cooney’s unique creation along with a small but dedicated team from the late 1960’s onward, STREET GANG shows the initial film-based small set in New York, how legendary characters and storylines began and continues to cover the popularity and hard work of its creators right up until Jim Henson’s death in 1990.
Where STREET GANG gets a lot of mileage is watching how the creators had pretty much full reign to experiment, learn from what worked and what didn’t, and evolve into something that connected with more than just kids. It also focuses strongly on the likes of Bob McGrath, Odetta Holmes, Carol Spinney (who has his own documentary as well) and especially Matt Robinson whose contribution created a lot of great change for blacks in television at the time.
Along with this, there are a LOT of clips featured in Marilyn Agrelo’s doc, many of which I remember seeing when I grow up and have fond memories of. Anyone who either grew up with these characters will immediately be taken back. I only wish this doc showed a bit more of the actual creative process as the many, many clips got a bit repetitive at times, but I also assume Agrelo only had what was available to her. Even so, STREET GANG still satisfies as a doc that reveals the wonderful, ahead-of-its time, DIY approach to children’s programming that still works to this very day.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET is now streaming at HotDocs Online, and will be available on VOD in May from LevelFilm. Thanks as always to Route 504 for sending along a link for review. Watch on our site this week for a selection of filmmaker interviews from HotDocs!