Friday, January 20, 2012

The World According to Sesame Street

Release Date: 2006
Distribution Company: Participant Productions
Director: Linda Hawkins Costigan, Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Run time: 90 minutes
Seen on: Netflix DVD
Recommended:  Yes, it was interesting to see its devlopment in other countries

This is another doc I watched his past fall.  I saw it even before "Being Elmo."  This doc follows the development process by the CTW or Children's Television Workshop to  It follows the development of programs in Bangladesh, Kosovo, and South Africa.  All international programs are a collaboration between the international department at CTW and groups in the host nation.

The program can be simply a repackaging from the vault at Sesame Street that are redubbed.  They decided on this process for the Kosovo program.  They included both Serbian and Bosnian people in the planning process.  The hope was to influence future generations of children to view the other culture as valid and limit any future conflict.  Unfortunately, active fighting broke out during the planning process and documentary.

They may instead choose the creation of new characters and new streets, which was the case in Bagladesh and South Africa.  The development process to create an internationa Seame Street is intensive.  CTW wants to stay true to the message of entertain.ent and education for children.  However, they also want to reflect and speak to the country's culture.

The trick in Bangladesh was to create the "street." Where the goal in the original version was to represent the underrepresented urban environment, it would not work in bangladesh.  Ninety percent of their population is in rural communitites.  Instead "Sisimpur" reflected a rural town square, complete with tea shop, distant river, and banyan tree.

For international productions, the set was created by local craftsmen.  The puppets were created in the US and shipped overseas.  They took local influences and translated them into lovable Sesame Street characters.  They do not copy current characters, but are unquestionably part of the Sesame Street family.  The Bangladesh production includes a tiger.  The South African production includes an HIV positive human girl.

It was extremely interesting to see how Sesame Street is translated into different languages, cultures, and countries.  My favorite part was seeing the impact of Sismipur on the Bagladeshi children.  Highly recommended insight into the creative process.

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