The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”
If you take all the elements of what makes good television and do the exact opposite, you’d have Mister Rogers Neighborhood. At least, that’s what the producers said when the hit children’s show began in 1968.
Those who worked on the show during its multi-decade run speak about their experiences in the new documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival Friday (Jan. 19). In the short trailer for the documentary released recently, producer Margy Whitmer says the low production values, simple sets and “unlikely star” set the expectations low.
“Yet, it worked,” Whitmer says.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” explores how Rogers used his characters — King Friday, Henrietta Pussycat and Lady Elaine Fairchild — to teach children about sometimes difficult topics such as grief, guilt, disability, race and tragedy. It also reflects on the man himself.
“The Fred Rogers I discovered making this film is at once comfortably familiar and completely surprising,” the film’s director Morgan Neville said in a statement in November. “I believe Mister Rogers is the kind of voice we need to hear right now.”