Take the trolley down memory lane on Feb. 27, when Salt Lake Community College screens “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” as part of the Center for Arts and Media’s semi-annual documentary series.
The biographical documentary film about Fred Rogers, the beloved TV star, has received praise from film critics and audience members alike for its uplifting messages of kindness. The film spotlights Rogers, who influenced generations of children with his unlikely, yet groundbreaking, television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
For those with early memories of watching Mister Rogers routinely take journeys to the Land of Make Believe, get ready to grab a box of tissues. The lessons of treating others with kindness and compassion, dealing with grief and a full spectrum of other human emotions defined generations, but this documentary offers a surprising look at Rogers’ progressive teachings, beliefs and methods.
What started out as a small, low-budget television production in 1968 soon became a staple on PBS and ran for 33 years.
Stan Clawson, who teaches film at SLCC, says he was captivated by the heartwarming message.
“I sobbed throughout the movie,” Clawson recalls. “It’s a great film, very well made — and was totally snubbed by the Oscars, by the way.”
Directed by Morgan Neville, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” holds a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has received universal acclaim, but was overlooked by the 2019 Oscars, according to TV Guide and many other industry reports.
More than just a documentary about a man and his legacy, viewers likely will find themselves reflecting on the simple philosophies Rogers so adamantly believed could change the world.
“There is only one person in the whole world like you, and people can like you just because you’re you,” he told millions of children on air.
The free screening of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will be held at 6 p.m in the film screening room at the South City Campus.
The series includes two more documentary screenings, including “Grey Gardens” on March 27 and “Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters” on April 10. Screenings are open to the public and are followed by discussions with SLCC faculty.