2021 Sundance Docs in Focus: STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Luke Geissbühler


STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET
Marilyn Agrelo revisits the origins of the pioneering children’s television powerhouse.

Festival Section:
Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

“Can you tell me how to get, how to get to SESAME STREET?” Based on Michael Davis’s best-selling book of the same name, Marilyn Agrelo’s film STREET GANG explores how creator Joan Ganz Cooney, original series director Jon Stone, and legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson—among other key talents—joined forces to create a children’s television show that would become a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon. Recognizing that kids were utterly captivated by television, these visionaries set out to harness the power of the medium for good—to offer learning rather than products to children. More than 50 years later, the show reaches over 150 countries around the world, continuing to entertain while it educates. 

Drawing on fantastic and funny behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with beloved cast members and crew, the film goes beyond the considerable nostalgic appeal of SESAME STREET to tap into the enduring emotional resonance of the program’s core message of affirmation and inclusion—and the promise of preparing the next generation to imagine a better world for us all.

Some Background:

Director:
Marilyn Agrelo
First Sundance credit. Founder, Indigo Films. Agrelo is best known for the feature doc MAD HOT BALLROOM, for which she won a Gotham Award. She has directed episodes of SESAME STREET and the reboot of THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.

Producers:
Trevor Crafts
CEO, Macrocosm Entertainment. Crafts previously executive produced Sundance fiction feature alum title EXPERIMENTER. His past projects have screened at SXSW, Edinburgh, and Slamdance.

Ellen Scherer Crafts
First Sundance credit. VP, development, Macrocosm Entertainment. Prior to forming Macrocosm with her husband, Trevor, Ellen had a background in producing special events, promotion, and marketing.

Lisa Diamond
First Sundance credit. Diamond is an Emmy-nominated producer with a background on series at Showtime, Epix, A&E, Investigation Discovery, and National Geographic. She is also currently working on a project for Sesame Workshop.

Executive Producers:
Lisa Heller
Recent past Sundance docs:
MCMILLION$ (2020)
NATALIE WOOD: WHAT REMAINS BEHIND (2020)
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (2020)
LEAVING NEVERLAND (2018)
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS (2019)
RX: EARLY DETECTION – A CANCER JOURNEY WITH SANDRA LEE (short, 2018)

Co-head, HBO Documentary and Family Programming. Heller has won numerous News & Documentary Emmy Awards, as well as a Primetime Emmy, in her many years at HBO.

Nancy Abraham
Recent past Sundance docs:
MCMILLION$
NATALIE WOOD: WHAT REMAINS BEHIND
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA
LEAVING NEVERLAND
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS
THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY (2019)
ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND (2018)
THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING (2018)
CRIES FROM SYRIA (2017)

Co-head, HBO Documentary and Family Programming. Abraham is also a multi-Emmy winner with three decades at HBO.

Brian O’Shea
CEO, The Exchange. O’Shea previously served as an executive producer for the Sundance fiction feature alum project YOUNG ONES. Prior to launching his current sales company, he held executive positions at Affinity, Media 8, and First Look. O’Shea has been a past creative advisor to Sundance Institute’s Catalyst program.

Nat McCormick
First Sundance credit. EVP, worldwide sales and distribution, The Exchange. McCormick previously held executive roles at IM Global Film and Odd Lot Entertainment (later known as Affinity).

Matthew Helderman
Co-founder/CEO, Buffalo 8. Helderman previously executive produced Sundance fiction feature alumni project LITTLE MEN and co-produced Sundance alum AS YOU ARE.

Luke Taylor
Co-founder/COO, Buffalo 8. Taylor also previously executive produced LITTLE MEN.

Mark Myers
President, Citizen Skull Productions. Myers previously executive produced EXPERIMENTER.

Heather Kenyon
First Sundance credit. SVP, development and production, Citizen Skull Productions. Prior to Citizen Skull, Kenyon had a background in children’s television and animation series.

Co-Executive Producer:
Michael Davis
First Sundance credit. Davis is a journalist and author, whose New York Times bestseller, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, inspired this project.

More Info:
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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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