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Library Documentary Film Matinee

January 12 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm


Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville’s latest documentary takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this documentary is an emotional and moving film that takes you beyond zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius, who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.

This film makes the case, and a convincing one, that Fred Rogers was a hero, albeit one who eschewed capes for cardigan sweaters. Of he was a hero, it begins with this: He was exactly who he seemed to be.

That in itself is remarkable in this age of scandal and fallen heroes. Interviewees in the documentary testify again and again to Rogers’ consistency of character, his essential goodness. And while I’m sure he had bad moments like anyone else his public persona seems amazingly consistent with is private self.

Rogers took his job incredibly seriously. The documentary tells us that there was precious little ad-libbing on the set: Rogers’ wanted every word to be carefully considered, and he labored intensely to make sure that every message and every song was on point.

And what were those messages? ‘Won’t you be my neighbour?’ tells us that Rogers was an activist, albeit a gentle one. When southern hotel owners were pouring caustic cleaning agents into pools to force African-American swimmers to get out of them, Rogers was dipping his toes in a wading pool with the Neighbourhood’s black Officer Clemmons. Whenever he thought that his young viewers might be worried about a real-world issue, he’d address it in his show. He themed programmes, even whole weeks, to deal with everything from war and assassination to grief and divorce. Some critics paint Rogers as a Pollyanna, a milquetoast spokesman who ignored the real world outside the confines of his ‘Neighbourhood.’ The documentary suggests he was anything but.

Perhaps the most important messages he wanted to convey was that he liked his young viewers, “just the way you are”. While some critics suggested that Rogers’ focus on messages of uncritical self-love and acceptance helped usher in a world of pampered snowflakes and soccer games where no one keeps score, that wasn’t his purpose at all, the film reveals. He simply believed that if people felt that they were both loved and lovable, they’d have the confidence to do tremendous things.

Mister Rogers’s demeanor balanced openness with reserve, curiosity with tact. The most radical thing about him was his unwavering commitment to the value of kindness in the face of the world that could seem intent on devising new ways to be mean. “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,” he would sing at the start of each episode. He made it sound so simple, but also as if he knew just how hard it could be.

“Love is at the root of everything,” Mister Rogers says in archival footage from the documentary, “All learning, all relationships. Love, of the lack of it.”

Each month the Creston Public Library offers a screening of one of the latest hard hitting or informative releases for viewing and discussion. Everyone is welcome, admittance is free, and there is no need to register.

To learn more about this documentary and to watch the movie trailer please see the website: http://www.focusfeatures.com/wont-you-be-my-neighbor/ Run time 94 minutes.

As with all of our documentaries: The views and statements expressed in this film are solely those of the film makers and the other contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Creston Public Library.


January 12
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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Creston Public Library
531 16 Ave S
Creston, British Columbia V0B1G5 Canada
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