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WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Synopsis

Fred Rogers led a singular life. He was a puppeteer. A minister. A musician. An educator. A father, a husband, and a neighbor. Fred Rogers spent 50 years on children’s television beseeching us to love and to allow ourselves to be loved.  With television as his pulpit, he helped transform the very concept of childhood.  He used puppets and play to explore the most complicated issues of the day—race, disability, equality and tragedy. He spoke directly to children and they responded by forging a lifelong bond with him—by the millions.  And yet today his impact is unclear.  WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? explores the question of whether or not we have lived up to Fred's ideal. Are we all good neighbors? 

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The Filmmakers

Morgan Neville Director

Morgan Neville is a documentary filmmaker whose films focus on culture. His acclaimed film 20 Feet from Stardom won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary as well as a Grammy Award for Best Music Film in 2015. His documentary, Best of Enemies was shortlisted for the 2016 Academy Award. Neville has been nominated for three additional Grammys for: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied and Johnny Cash’s America and he won an Emmy Award for his film Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues. Neville’s non-music films include The Cool School and Beauty Is Embarrassing. Recent projects include Chelsea Does, a four-part documentary series and Keith Richards: Under the Influence. His latest film, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, was recently released by The Orchard and HBO and has become one of the highest grossing documentaries of 2016.

Caryn Capotosto Producer

An Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, Caryn is Head of Productions at Tremolo Productions in Los Angeles. She was Associate Producer on the Academy Award and Grammy-winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom (2013) and Co-Producer on Best of Enemies which received a 2016 News and Documentary Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary. Other projects include the documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design and Chelsea Does, both for Netflix (Supervising Producer for Tremolo, 2016). Her feature docs include The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble (Associate Producer, 2015), Filmage: The Story of Descendents / ALL (Co-Producer, 2014), and the Rolling Stones documentary, Crossfire Hurricane (HBO, 2012). Her current projects include Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Producer, 2018), a feature documentary on the iconic children’s host, Fred Rogers, Afghan Cycles (2018), a feature doc about gender equality and women’s rights in Afghanistan, and Om Supreme: The Alice Coltrane Story.

Nicholas Ma Producer

Nicholas Ma is a freelance consultant and filmmaker from New York City. Focused on social impact projects, especially through the arts, he regularly consults for major artistic figures and organizations as well as public sector institutions seeking to drive change. He left McKinsey & Company in 2014 as an Associate Partner, where he led large-scale transformations of public sector entities, from national governments to local school districts, and multinational corporations. A graduate of Harvard College, he previously worked in Washington, D.C. for then-Senator John Kerry, handling his global economic portfolio on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Updates

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? in theaters now!

6/8/18

Don't miss this incredible film! Click here to find opening dates near you.

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? wins three Critics' Choice Documentary Awards!

11/14/18

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? wins the Critics' Choice Awards for Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Editing. See the full list of winners here.

Congratulations to WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? on its Gotham Award!

11/26/18

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? takes home the Gotham Audience Award! See the full list of winners here.

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? wins the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary!

2/25/19

Congratulations to Morgan Neville and the entire team! Click here to see the full list of winners.

THE LATEST FROM @@MrRogersMovie ON TWITTER

CONGRATS to the #MrRogersMovie team on their @filmindependent #SpiritAwards WIN for Best Documentary! 🏆 https://t.co/beqPlajBlA

February 23, 2019

RT @filmindependent: BEST DOCUMENTARY goes to WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? #SpiritAwards https://t.co/4kqo7fLEQB

Retweeted from @Film Independent

February 23, 2019

A voice needed now more than ever. Celebrate the most acclaimed documentary of 2018, #MrRogersMovie. https://t.co/GdTVvxPQZZ

January 21, 2019

Follow @@MrRogersMovie

Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival

2018

With his gentle voice and heartfelt words of wisdom, Fred Rogers served as a compassionate surrogate father for generations of American children who tuned in to public television. He believed in love as the essential ingredient in life and was able to assist kids through difficult situations armed merely with handmade puppets suggesting tolerance and acceptance. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Mr. Rogers made speaking directly and openly to children his life’s work, both on and off his long-running show. He was at the forefront of a movement devoted to meeting the specific needs of children and was considered a radical back then for saying, “I like you just the way you are.”

Animated sequences are peppered between archival footage of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and interviews with Fred Rogers’s family, friends, and colleagues. Examining Rogers’s legacy, Academy Award–winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) offers a deliberate and beautiful tribute to an authentic human being and provides a much-needed salve for these often-fraught times.

+ Festival Website

Seattle International Film Festival

2018

Winner: Best Documentary

Oscar®-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) presents the heartwarming life of Fred Rogers, whose cherished PBS series used cardigans, puppets, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to imaginatively and compassionately inspire children, while not shying away from complicated issues.

After half of a century on television sharing countless teachings of love and kindness, Fred Rogers remains a cultural icon and the personification of nostalgia. Among the list of his many identities as a husband, father, educator, minister, and musician, also lies innovator. "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" redefined children's programming by unabashedly addressing social issues like equity, race relations, disability, divorce, and mental health using puppetry and songs to translate powerful messages that remain relevant to people of all ages. Oscar®-winning director Morgan Neville's documentary reflects Rogers' unyielding purity and imagination, and through archival footage paints a more complete portrait than the public has ever seen on their television screens. Teased as a child for his weight, Rogers became a man with zero tolerance for cruelty of any kind, and gained a shameless confidence that was perpetuated through being transparent and unapologetic about his flaws. His famous tenet that everyone should be loved and respected for their authentic selves is the center of Neville's film, as audiences are made to truly question if they are fulfilling the admirable vision of the American legend and being the best neighbor they can be.

+ Festival Website

South By Southwest

2018

Fred Rogers led a singular life. He was a puppeteer. A minister. A musician. An educator. A father, a husband, and a neighbor. Fred Rogers spent 50 years on children’s television beseeching us to love and to allow ourselves to be loved. With television as his pulpit, he helped transform the concept of childhood. He used puppets and play to explore the most complicated issues of the day—race, disability, equality and tragedy. He spoke directly to children and they responded by forging a lifelong bond with him—by the millions. And yet today his impact is unclear. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? explores the question of whether or not we have lived up to Fred's ideal. Are we all good neighbors?

+ Festival Website

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

2018

"I like you just the way you are." With this phrase, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood introduced generations of American children to a genial, soft-spoken man, who became a father figure to many thanks to his open, compassionate communication. Fred Rogers's heartfelt words of wisdom helped children deal with complex social issues including death and discrimination. Approaching challenging topics with honesty and warmth, he dedicated himself to meeting the needs of children, and fifty years later, he remains an unmatched landmark in children's television. Wonderfully illustrated with clips from the show, striking animation and interviews with many people who worked with, loved and were influenced by Fred Rogers, Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville has crafted a remarkably resonant film that's both tribute and caution. We're reminded not only of the brilliance and beauty of Mr. Rogers's legacy, but of the dangers in closing ourselves off from his message of acceptance and love.

- Shane Smith

+ Festival Website

Critics' Choice Documentary Awards

2018

Winner: Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Editing.

Gotham Awards

2018

Winner: Gotham Audience Award

Independent Spirit Awards

2019

Winner: Best Documentary

Reviews

Moving and illuminating.”

-A.O. Scott, The New York Times

This beautiful film celebrates a deeply good man with a great gift for repairing.”

-Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

Both nostalgic and immediate, it’s a documentary you want to hug.”

-Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Touching and insightful.”

-Eric Kohn, IndieWire

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? isn’t just the best documentary of 2018 but one of the best documentaries ever made.”

-Scott Menzel, We Live Entertainment