Friday, April 30, 2010

"Mister Rogers & Me" To Premiere Alongside Tom Hanks, Ben Stiller, Bill Murray, More

The official Nantucket Film Festival lineup was released today, and it's stellar.

"Mister Rogers & Me" will premiere alongside a small but impressive list of films, including Tom Hank's "Toy Story 3," Bill Murray's "Get Low," and Patricia Clarkson's "Cairo Time."

Frankly, I can hardly believe it. But there it is in The Hollywood Reporter.

I knew the lineup was coming; I've been sending synopsise, clips, bios and photos for weeks. Word of the official release from my colleague, MTV Movies Managing Editor Josh Horowitz. I was fresh off an overnight train from New York to Sheldon, South Carolina, which I boarded fresh off a red eye from Los Angeles to New York. I clicked tentatively, as if the call from the festival organizers a few weeks ago was some sort of dream.

There it was in black and white alongside films by Spike Jonze ("The Birth of Big Air") and Davis Guggenheim ("Waiting For Superman"), and actors like Kevin Kline ("The Extra Man"), Katie Holmes ("The Romantics") and Anne Meara ("Another Harvest Moon"). Ben Stiller will once again bring his All-Star Comedy Roundtable, and the festival will honor Barry Levinson's "Diner."

Oh, and Christofer and my little film. I emailed him right away, my heart racing.

The NFF lineup is truly, truly impressive. It's amazing that we're a part of it. Amazing! Chokes me up. Congratulations, dude.

In the program, the color photograph of Mister Rogers and me in his modest, well-loved living room is wedged between the documentary "Last Train Home" and John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy." The documentary company alone is staggering: "The Birth of Big Air," "Bill Cunningham New York," "Freedom Riders," "His & Hers," "Smash His Camera," "The Tilman Story," "Waiting For Superman" and "Last Train Home."

I stepped outside into the sun-dappled South Carolina afternoon, and went for a long run. The sky was bright blue and streaked with wispy clouds. The Pocotaligo River was strewn with diamond-shaped reflections. Egrets and eagles soared above me. Alligators scattered in my wake. I alternated between fantasizing about meeting Tom Hanks, imaging a neighbor-filled premiere party, and missing out on the whole thing on account of my new son or daughters imminent arrival.

I met Mister Rogers nearly nine years ago on the cusp of my "Crash Site" CD release. The album was full of songs inspired by my parent's divorce. I wrestled with it affects daily. And then, on that fateful day in September, Mister Rogers said to me, "Tell me about your parent's divorce," gently making manageable the unmentionable.

Through the passing of time, and the making of the film, I came to reckon with that wreckage. I met my wife. And now we're expecting out first child just a few days before making good on his challenge to "spread the message" that "deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex." That's the real story: how Mister Rogers helped me heal, become more-whole, get married, and bring a child into the world. And the tools he gave me to do it all. What a miracle.

Chris and I have been working on "locking picture" (that is, finalizing our edit) for weeks. We have just a few more narrow windows to tweak the film further. A few filmmaker friends have screened it, and shared their notes. Everyone is feeling it, and most had suggestions that will only make the story deeper and simpler. The best note so far? "I cried!"

Whatever happens with the premiere, I am blessed. I am grateful. I feel dozens of guardian angels hovering over me, helping lift this project off the ground and into flight. Who knows what will happen next. All I know is that we've almost done it! We've almost made good on our pledge to Mister Rogers. And it feels amazing.


Elizabeth Harper said...

I can't imagine how thrilled you and your brother must be. I hope to be able to see it ... maybe a DVD for those outside the US. Congrats on making another dream of yours come true.

greg said...

IPOY. . . "I'm proud of you." --That's what Fred Rogers would say to you if he were still here.
We're ALL proud of you! Thanks to you and your brother for all your hard work!

Amy said...

Congratulations. This is a big thrill for you, but also a smaller one for those of us who feel like we're a part of the project thanks to kickstarter. Bon courage!