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Hot Docs Review: ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ is an Ode to a Beloved Figure in Children’s Television

April 28, 2018Ferdosa Abdi

Won't You Be My Neighbor? is perfectly crafted to maximize tears and laughter from audience, even from the most cynical. It's an honest, genuine and hopeful portrait of one the most important figures in children's programming.

Fred Rogers is no longer with us, but the documentary makes it very clear that his spirit and message still resonate through Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which impacted so many lives. His love, devotion and beliefs pushed him to fight for the well-being of children and in doing so bettering the world. He wasn't overly ambitious, but he certainly got close to accomplishing this. His goal in life was to ensure that children were given an enriched childhood where they are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. And that when these children got older, they would carry those lessons with them as proactive and positive members of society.

Directed by Morgan Neville, Won't You Be My Neighbor? also does good job at demystifying Mr. Rogers. He wasn't a saint, nor was he free of troubles. Like many, he struggled and stumbled. Ultimately, the documentary is a beautiful love letter to a man whose humanity shone bright, whose ambitions were honest and true, and whose message is very much needed today.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? screens Saturday, April 28th, Sunday, April 29th and Sunday, May 6th at Hot Docs. Its runtime is 1 hr. 33 min.

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