Best of the Day: American Experience: Walt Disney Preview – September 3, 2015

Get a glimpse of the man behind the mouse with a special panel discussion for the upcoming PBS documentary at the JFK Library.

Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney / Courtesy photo provided by American Experience: Walt Disney

“We’re not making cartoons here. We’re making art!” Such was the rallying cry of animation mogul Walt Disney, who died at age 65 in 1966 at the height of his power. He would never see the completed version of one of his final projects, the utopian theme park city Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (a/k/a EPCOT).

Despite his obsession with futurism, Disney’s cryogenically frozen body is not buried beneath the theme park, contrary to popular urban legend. But his legacy continues: With the Walt Disney Company raking in over $40 billion annually, Disney is one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, and its all-pervasive success makes it a ready target for the likes of such pop-culture-skewering artists as Banksy, whose Dismaland “bemusement park” opened last month in a derelict building in Somerset, England.

So it’s easy to forget that Disney’s empire started from rather humble beginnings as a little Kansas City company called Laugh-O-Grams (which went bankrupt in the span of one year) and that some of his most enduring films—Fantasia, for instance—were box-office flops.

But a new documentary is about to take a closer look.

On September 14-15, PBS will air a two-night, four-hour American Experience documentary—produced locally in Boston at WGBH—devoted to the man behind the mouse, featuring “rarely seen footage from the Disney archive, scenes from some of his greatest films, and interviews with biographers, animators and artists who worked on his early films, as well as the designers who helped turn his dream of Disneyland into reality.”

And before this documentary airs, you can get a sneak preview at tonight’s Kennedy Library Forums, which hosts several personalities involved in the film. On hand tonight: American Experience: Walt Disney executive producer Mark Samels, Academy Award-nominated producer Don Hahn (who’s worked on such Disney films as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Maleficent), art historian Carmenita Higginbotham, and journalist and author Ron Suskind.

September 3, 6-8 p.m., John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, 617-514-1600,