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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

How the Atticus Award For Best Dad-Created Film Earned Roy R. Neuberger's Name

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy, DCG Founder, and Director of the Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F)


In his 105th year, he still had a twinkle in his eye as he told me at the end of his daddying interview, that this was the best interview he ever had. "You know why?" he asked.


"No," I replied.


With a smile he responded, "You knew just when to stop."


The average duration of my interviews lasts between an hour and a half to two hours. In deference to his age, I shortened the interview with Roy R. Neuberger to 20 minutes. As with most of the other interviewees – now totaling more than 200 – he was intrigued by the questions I asked and seemed eager to look back at his daddying of three children – then all over 60 years old. The interview had been arranged by his oldest, my dear friend Ann Neuberger Aceves.


He remembered especially the joy he felt at Ann's birth and at the subsequent births of her two younger brothers. He noted that as his children got older, "every child has an intuition that dignifies them" and that "the achievements of youth are unlike anything of adults!"


Roy R. Neuberger, July 21, 1903 - December 24, 2010

In addition to Roy's successes as a financier, he used his financial successes to contribute money to raise public awareness of modern art. After reading a biography of Vincent van Gogh, he became painfully aware that van Gogh lived in pain and misery and decided his mission as an art patron would be to support contemporary artists. And so he did. In 2007, shortly before our interview, President George W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Arts.


Roy R. Neuberger was orphaned at 12 and lived with his older sister and her husband. So, he grew up without the physical presence of his father. That is not unique and it is also true that many of us grow up with the physical presence, but not the psychological presence of our fathers who are often otherwise preoccupied.


When I ask the men who voluntarily attend one of my workshops on "Becoming the Dad YOU Want to Be," why they are attending, a sizeable percentage tell me "So I don’t become like my father." The percentage of men who answer that way is quite consistent whether the workshops are at the World Bank, in Head Start Centers, on Native American Pueblos, with veteran groups, in corporate headquarters, in schools, and even with individuals in a variety of other settings. The largest percentage to answer that way is, not surprisingly, in penitentiaries. Many inmates have told me that their fathers were never around or abused them; and, thus, they either don’t know how to be dads or else feel they are condemned to repeat that pattern. I reassure them that the type of father you become is not genetically predetermined. It is, rather, a consequence of the choices you/we make.

He remembered especially the joy he felt at Ann's birth and at the subsequent births of her two younger brothers. He noted that as his children got older, "every child has an intuition that dignifies them" and that "the achievements of youth are unlike anything of adults!"

Roy could have copped out on his daddying with a similar "excuse." But as a number of fathers have told me, the experience of growing up without your biological dad present has convinced them to step up for their own children. In that process, they discover how rewarding it is for them and thus what their own fathers have missed.


In their quest for positive models of daddying, they have created what I describe as a "patchwork dad" from qualities they have admired in a variety of father figures and they utilize that patchwork dad with their own children.


Because of Roy R. Neuberger’s appreciation of the importance of supporting contemporary artists, his recognition of the intuition that dignifies each child, the joys he discovered as a father – and the twinkle in his eyes – we have created a special Atticus Award statuette, the Roy R. Neuberger Prize, and will present it at the 2023 Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) for the best film created by a dad or father figure. The award will be presented together with $500 to be used for either enjoying an activity with their child(ren) or to encourage them to continue their filmmaking artistry.

...the type of father you become is not genetically predetermined. It is, rather, a consequence of the choices you/we make.

Dads/Dad Figures, 1st-grade through College Undergrad Students, and Indie Filmmakers

SUBMIT FILMS & VIDEOS for D3F Consideration BY MAY 1

 

Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019, he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He has conducted daddying workshops in such diverse settings as Native American pueblos, veterans groups, nursery schools, penitentiaries, Head Start centers, corporate boardrooms, and various elementary schools, signifying the widespread interest in men in becoming the best possible dad. In 2022, Allan founded and co-directed the Daddying Film Festival & Forum to enable students, dads, and other indie filmmakers to use film as a vehicle to communicate the importance of fathers or father figures in each others' lives. Allan earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D and GRAND D-A-D the most important “degrees” of all.

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