My Tale of Two Cities (2008)

85 min.Documentary
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$500K (estimated)
Screenwriter (St. Elmo's Fire) and TV writer/producer (Saved By The Bell) Carl Kurlander was living in Hollywood when he received an offer to go back to his hometown and teach at the University of Pittsburgh. In search for a more meaningful and balanced life for himself and his family, Carl decided to move back to Pittsburgh, the real life "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Shortly after, Fred Rogers died, and the city of Pittsburgh declared itself "financially distressed." With both himself and his hometown in a mid-life crisis, Kurlander set out on a Don Quixote quest to make a film to help the place where he grew up. Armed with a cranky cameraman, funded by his dermatologist, and often battling his wife, who longs to return to the sunny West Coast, Carl asks his neighbors from the famous (Franco Harris, Teresa Heinz Kerry) to the not-so-famous (his old gym teacher, the girl who inspired St. Elmo's Fire) how this once great industrial giant, which built America with its steel, conquered polio, and invented everything from aluminum to the Big Mac, can reinvent itself for a new age. Kurlander goes cheese shopping with Teresa Heinz Kerry where they discuss her late husband John Heinz's belief that sometimes your worst problems can become your best opportunities; tosses a football with legendary Steeler Franco Harris and his brilliant son, attorney and entrepreneur, Dok Harris, who moved back from Washington, D.C. to help his hometown; and goes fishing in Pittsburgh's once polluted rivers and, after eating a catfish, visits famed coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht to find out if he will live. The film also co-stars former Treasury Secretary Paul O' Neill, transplant pioneer Thomas Starzl, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild CEO Bill Strickland, Joanne Rogers, (wife of Fred Rogers), Mr. McFeely of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (actor David Newell), and Sister Linda Yankoski, of Holy Family Institute who has received national headlines of late for taking in orphans from Haiti. Ultimately, the film explores what it means to come home again and how individuals can make a difference in re-energizing the communities in which they grew up. We are reminded of this by Pittsburgh's late Mayor Bob O' Connor who articulates in the movie that, even in dark times, if we work together and believe in ourselves, it can still be a "beautiful day in the neighborhood." Written By Kris Veenis  Less

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