The Best Movies Of Sundance Film Festival History

Yesterday I posted part one of my two-part look at the best movies of Sundance Film Festival history. Today I return with the second installment, which takes a look at the best movies from the last 16 years of the festival as Park City became not only the mecca of American independent film but the launching pad for hundred million dollar award contenders.

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Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Elmo and the subject of the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, has resigned from Sesame Street amid allegations of underage sex.

The first accusation surfaced last week, prompting Clash to take a leave of absence from the company. Although the accuser has since recanted his statement, fresh allegations of sexual impropriety have just been raised by another party. Elmo will remain among Sesame Workshop’s stable of characters, but will now be portrayed by a different performer. Read more after the jump.

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‘Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey’ Trailer

One of the biggest crowd-pleasers out of this year’s festival circuit was Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey, which premiered at Sundance back in January. By all accounts, the film is irresistibly charming, a treat to watch; our own Peter Sciretta considers it one of his top films of 2011.

Constance Marks’ documentary chronicles the story of Kevin Clash, the man who makes Elmo ‘Elmo,’ from his days as an ambitious working-class kid in Baltimore to his current career as the artist behind one of the most popular puppets of all time. Woven throughout Clash’s narrative is a related, equally fascinating thread — the rise of master puppeteer Jim Henson and his Muppets.

Now the first trailer has dropped for the film, which will finally start making it to theaters next month. Watch it after the jump.

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Coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of the stories people seemed most eager to tell was how they cried their little hearts out after seeing Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. The documentary, directed by Constance Marks, is about Kevin Clash, the man behind the famous Sesame Street character Elmo. It simultaneously tells the tale of how he was able to turn his unique dream – to be a puppeteer – into reality while also chronicling the rise of Jim Henson and the Muppets. It was Peter’s favorite film at Sundance this year and now it’s finally being released.

Being Elmo will open in New York on October 21 and then begin expanding on November 4. After the jump, see what date it’s coming to your city and watch a video blog reaction to the film. Read More »

One of my most anticipated films of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was a documentary titled Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, the inspirational tale of Kevin Clash, the man who plays the Sesame Street character Elmo.

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One of the documentaries I’m interested in checking out at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival is Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. I’ve always been fascinated with The Muppets and the puppeteers that bring them to life. For me it’s like creating magic in real time. Here is the official synopsis from Sundance:

Each and every day, millions of kids tune in to Sesame Street to see one of the world’s most adored and recognizable children’s characters, a furry red monster named Elmo. Yet, with all of Elmo’s fame, the man behind the Muppet is able to walk down the street without being recognized. Meet Kevin Clash. As an average teenager growing up in Baltimore in the 1970s, Kevin had very different aspirations from his classmates—he wanted to be a puppeteer. More specifically, he wanted to be part of Jim Henson’s team of Muppeteers, the creative force responsible for delivering the magic of Sesame Street on a daily basis. With a supportive family behind him every step of the way, Kevin made those dreams come true. Combining amazing archival footage with material from the present day, filmmaker Constance Marks explores his story in vivid detail, chronicling the meteoric rise of Jim Henson’s Muppets in the process.

After the jump you can see a few photos from the movie, along with a three minute interview with the filmmakers.

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The announcement of the movies playing the 2011 Sundance Film Festival is like looking into our film futures. It’s December and most movie fans are looking back at the last 12 months, picking out award winners, writing top ten lists, and chances are we haven’t even heard of the Sundance films. They’re just titles, people, words on a computer screen. Then in January they unspool on screens across Park City, Utah and become something more. Finally, months later, these are the movies we discuss with our friends and choose on ballots at awards parties. Yet we get to read about them now, a year in advance.

Last year at this time, who had heard of Four Lions, Catfish, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, Restrepo or Animal Kingdom? Sundance, that’s who. All those films screened at the 2010 festival and now many have become not only personal favorites, but critical darlings and award contenders too.

Wednesday, Sundance announced the 58 films eligible for awards in four categories that will play the 2011 festival, taking place January 20-30. The 57 out-of-competition films in six additional categories will be announced Thursday. After the jump, we’ll give you the full list as well as highlight five in each category that sound particular promising. Read More »