It feels like Sundance just wrapped up, but we’re already starting to see some of the festival’s biggest buys make their way to theaters. Lakeith Stanfield-led Sorry to Bother You got the trailer treatment last week, and now there’s a preview out for Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? that will have you teleporting back to your childhood faster than you can say “trolley.”
The documentary by Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) follows Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from its humble Pittsburgh beginnings to a nationwide phenomenon, emphasizing creator Fred Rogers’ uplifting philosophies along the way. Rogers was renowned for his revolutionary work with children via the show, which ran from 1968 to 2001 and tactfully tackled such issues as disability, RFK’s assassination, and racial integration.*
For maximum Focus Features debuted their first trailer for the film on what would have been Fred Rogers’ 90th birthday. (Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003.) The preview encapsulates Rogers’ gentle legacy, from his forward-thinking social politics to his unique ability to relate to children. “I’ve always felt that I didn’t need to put on a funny hat or jump through the hoop to have a relationship with the child,” Rogers explains in one clip.
The trailer is so rife with Rogers footage it almost feels like a posthumous memoir from Rogers himself. There are so many wholesome Mr. Rogers quotes packed into these two minutes that it’s tough to pull just a few. Perhaps one of the most tearjerking moments comes when Rogers states, “Love is at the root of everything: all learning, all relationships. Love, or the lack of it.”
If critics reached one consensus following Neighbor’s Sundance debut, it’s that this film will make you cry. A lot. In these bleak times, punctuated by abuse and corruption, it’s hard not to mourn the loss of someone as thoughtful and compassionate as Fred Rogers. But if this trailer is any indication, Rogers’ legacy is far from over. Once Won’t You Be My Neighbor debuts this summer, it’ll give us all another opportunity to learn.
Correction, March 22, 2018: This article originally asserted that Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The show covered the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.