Paul Axton and David Rosado review two films, Won't You Be My Neighbor and Primas.
Won't You Be My Neighbor: Fred Rogers was about to enter the seminary when he turned on his first TV and saw a man get hit with a pie. He was aghast. How could he preach love and kindness when preschoolers were absorbing junk violence? So he changed career, trading a clerical collar for a cardigan, and attempted to change the world. Morgan Neville’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” follows how Rogers spent three decades hosting PBS’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” answering kids’ questions that other entertainers wouldn’t, including week-long episodes on death and divorce. Introducing the film at Sundance, Neville described his cheery documentary as therapy, only now for adults. At the first glimpse of the retro red trolley, a grown man in the audience moaned in joy.
Primas: How do you go on after an appallingly traumatic experience? Rocío, an 18-year-old Argentine girl, has managed to get her life back on track. When she was 10, she was dragged from her bike by a passing stranger, raped, set on fire and left for dead in a field. Incredibly, she survived. Now she tells her story to her cousin, who was sexually abused for years by her own father. Director Laura Bari transforms the girls' shocking personal stories into a beautifully natural portrait of two ordinary adolescents with familiar questions about life.