Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Director: Morgan Neville

Presented by: Nicholas Ma

 

2018, USA, 93 Minutes, DCP

Distributor: Focus Features

Program Notes

Every so often a film comes along that is timed so perfectly for the moment it enters the world that it is unimaginable that it wasn’t divine providence that brought it to us. In this particularly dark and divided moment, when the world feels as though it is in a perpetual slide, it’s easy to imagine the hand of some divine force gently nudging us towards the beacon of kindness and empathy that is Fred Rogers.

A Presbyterian minister whose beautiful brand of television teaching inspired the lives of millions (this programmer included) over his 30-plus years on the air, Fred Rogers certainly seems to be of divine stock. But as tempting as it is to ascribe Mr. Rogers and his seemingly inexhaustible love and kindness with a god-like divinity, it misses the point of his teachings. Each day his program showed that it is not beyond humans to show a godly kindness and love but rather something that each and every one of us is capable of giving and receiving, and what’s more, we should.

For many children growing up between the late 60s and early aughts, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood provided a place (for some the only place) where this simple concept was put into practice day in and day out. Rogers is famously quoted as saying, “Love is at the root of everything, all learning, all parenting, all relationships, love or the lack of it.” These lines send chills when spoken by Rogers in the film, because they are devastating in the simplicity of their truth. Why is it that a concept as simple as loving one another, remains so elusive for mankind as a whole?

While no film can solve the world’s problems, the multi-talented team behind Won’t You Be My Neighbor had the prescience to bring us this stirring account of the late Rogers lasting legacy of love and the myriad lives he touched to the big screen, at this particular moment, when we just may need it most. (Scott Braid)

 

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