Huh. A documentary about balloon twisters. Really? I do love a good documentary but truth is I didn't expect to love this one quite as much as I did, and now I can't stop telling people about it.
Filmmakers Naomi Greenfield and Sara Taksler met at their freshman orientation a few years ago. It was the classic "Say Something About Yourself" icebreaker, when Sara said "I can make balloon animals." Naomi, next up, said "I was gonna say that!" Bam--instant friends, and now partners in film making.
The charm of their movie lies in the lives of the twisters themselves and their lovely, eccentric, sometimes obsessive personalities. There are Ph.D.s, troubled teens and cancer survivors. They came to twisting for a variety of reasons, and for some, money was a good reason. And it turns out the money is good, my friends, surprisingly good. We're taken to one of the big twisting conventions, Twist and Shout, where we meet balloon twisters from all over the world who welcome in curious passers-by without reservation, put a piece of latex in their hand, and teach them how to make a doggy.
But there's way more to balloon twisting than doggies. For example, I'd never thought about how easily some balloon shapes lend themselves to representations of the male and female anatomy. There are adult-themed twisters who cater to bachelor and bachelorette parties, as well as gay bars. There are gospel twisters who cater to a different crowd and see twisting as part of their mission. But there's everything in between--a gigantic flying octopus, a Trojan horse, and 100-foot-tall soccer players. Literally, the sky's the limit, or not the limit, depending on how you look at it. Is it sculpture? Engineering? Fun and silliness? Yes.
What made my movie-watching experience extra nice was that Naomi Greenfield was there in the theater. She stayed to teach us how to twist a balloon doggy, and then put a movie promo pin on my jacket. She was lovely and sweet to the only two people who were in the theater to see her movie that day and who were mostly thumbs when it came to twisting. I liked her immediately. And next time I meet a twister at the farmers' market, I'll probably strike up a conversation with them as I hand them a donation for that doggy they made for my son.