Listen to the Friends & Neighbors Premiere Q&A

For a couple of years now, as I’ve been shooting and editing Friends & Neighbors, I imagined the day when the entire cast of helpers would come together to watch the film, and discuss it.

That day came last week when we screened Friends & Neighbors for our friends and neighbors at Theater N in Wilmington, Delaware.

After the credits rolled, Opera Delaware’s Kerriann Otańo moderated a Q&A with the former Director of Delaware Community & Family Services, Alonna Berry, WRK Group CEO Logan Herring, Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride, Certified School Counselor, Lauren Scott, and Somatic Psychotherapist Matthew Tousignant.

If you haven’t, please watch Friends & Neighbors; it’s only available through the end of May and then disappears until we premiere nationally in 2025. Then listen to this great conversation about what’s happening around and inside of us, and what we can do about it.

Kerriann: What I was struck by so much is a message that my mom told me that really came out in your movie, which is that we know we’re living a good life when we become the adults that we needed as children. We’re all just those scared, little kids, aren’t we?

Benjamin: I think the programming I got anyway – and my hunch is that it’s the programming we get – is that that little child and you, the kid with the backward baseball cap with the wings on it, is supposed to be in the past. And so what was so puzzling for me was how pervasive the sense that that hurt that you see in his eyes was. It never went away. But we don’t talk about it.

It’s so amazing to be in the room with [so many old friends] who saw me within hours of my jaw being broken; we didn’t know what to do. Nobody knew what to do. I just went back to school. No one said anything. As soon as I got back from the hospital, it was done. And for God’s sake, I didn’t even know I was spending the next – well up until pretty recently, really – literally looking out for somebody to punch me at all times. Yeah. And that’s just the one thing, right?

Kerriann: One of the things that Benjamin and I really connected on is that we both seek chaos to avoid quiet times. And one of the things that I was struck by, in the Mister Rogers documentary was the idea that in the quiet in the self-reflection in the self-discovery, that’s where we really can become who we are meant to become. What has this relative quiet [of Wilmington] released in you?

Benjamin: It was the quiet of walking around [my neighborhood] where I saw fox crossing the street and, and hawks and trees – something other than pigeons and rats – where I found respite. My wiring was for uncertainty. And so I went to a place [NYC] where I was surrounded by constant uncertainty. So it was an epiphany [to find quiet]. I shot up my hand like, “Oh, I can tell this one to the class!” That’s what I think I found.

Sarah [McBride] was so cool about talking about coming home, and Winden talks about coming home. In the movie I leave home, and at the end, I come home, like The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, right. So that’s what I found, you know? I found myself. I found my marriage. I found a relationship with my kids that is profound and excellent.

Kerriann: Lauren, you’ve been in schools for 30 years. What are you seeing? And what can parents do to empower their kids to be more comfortable sharing their feelings?

Lauren Scott: There’s a book that just came out by Jonathan Haidt called The Anxiety Generation talking about social media. [And] it’s not just social media, it’s [also] the lack of independent play: unsupervised, figure it out on the playground or in the neighborhood play. Combined, those two things have created a real deficit for our kids.

They’re on a 24 hour news cycle – as are we. And our bodies have not evolved to match the pace of information coming at us. We are flooded constantly, which, again, brings up all of those chemicals that we’ve talked about. And our systems are overloaded. And we don’t know what to do with it.

We’ve got these little people who are trying to figure this out with parents who don’t have it figured out, because it happens so fast! So it’s a real conversation. Letting our kids have more independence to play, getting them off of social media, and getting them away from 24-hour input would be a great place for parents to start.

Stream Friends & Neighbors on Vimeo now. And for more from Lauren, Logan, Matt, Sarah and Alonna, listen to the Friends & Neighbors podcast on Apple or Spotify.

Related Posts