Filmmaker: Morgan Neville
AFS Film Representative: Nicholas Ma (Producer)
Runtime: 94 min
For over thirty years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer was beamed daily into homes across America. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues, in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before and there hasn’t been since. Though he may be best known today as a soft-spoken, cardigan-wearing children’s television host, in reality, Fred Rogers’ career represents a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view about how we should best speak to children about important matters and how television could be used as a positive force in our society. In Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom) looks back on the legacy of Fred Rogers, focusing on his radically kind ideas. While the nation changed around him, Fred Rogers stood firm in his beliefs about the importance of protecting childhood. Neville pays tribute to this legacy with the latest in his series of highly engaging, moving documentary portraits of essential American artists.
About the filmmaker
Morgan Neville is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. For over twenty years he has been making films about music and cultural subjects including Troubadours, Search and Destroy and three Grammy-nominated films: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied, and Johnny Cash’s America. His non-music films include The Cool School, Steinbeck and Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A.. Neville has also produced many documentaries, including Pearl Jam Twenty, Crossfire Hurricane and Beauty is Embarrassing. In 2014, 20 Feet From Stardom, won numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Documentary. His next film, Best of Enemies, won an Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2017. The film was also shortlisted for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Recent projects include Ugly Delicious, Abstract: The Art of Design, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Fred Rogers which was released by Focus Features in 2018 and has become one of the best reviewed and highest grossing documentaries of all time.