The Film

L to R:
A group of young black South African children, in school uniforms, smile and wave for the camera

A brown-haired Bengali girl in pigtails wearing a blue dress, dances with a purple puppet in braids wearing a green dress

Our producers are like old-fashioned missionaries… it’s not religion that they’re spreading, but it is learning and tolerance and love and mutual respect, and in a way, you have to say it must be the most wonderful job in the world.
—Joan Ganz Cooney, originator of Sesame Street

Explore the worlds of Sesame Street:

Children’s education is more than just ABCs and 123s. With today’s global landscape dominated by such pressing issues as poverty, human rights, AIDS and ethnic genocide, how can the world’s most-watched children’s television show bridge cultures while remaining socially relevant? THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET explores the dramas, challenges and complexities behind producing international versions of the beloved television program. The film follows productions in Bangladesh, Kosovo and South Africa and examines how producers from New York's Sesame Workshop take the iconic American television show and localize it with indigenous songs, puppets and curricula while facing cultural, political and production challenges.

When it first aired in 1969, Sesame Street was considered groundbreaking. A product of the era’s progressive and civil rights movements, it boasted the first mixed-race cast and first urban setting on a children’s television show. One of the program’s goals was to help level the educational playing field for all pre-school children. Sesame Workshop’s international co-productions now illustrate the current political and social environments of their home countries.

Today, Sesame Street is aired in more than 120 countries around the world, and Sesame Workshop is developing co-productions in India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Northern Ireland and Brazil. As fascinating primer on art, media and intercultural dialogue, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET illustrates both the many cultural differences and similarities of producing the children’s television program on a global level.

Learn more about Sesame Street’s international co-productions >>

Read the filmmaker Q&A >>

Title bar photograph and graphic provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop.
Sesame Street® and associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2006 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.


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