Daddy Don’t Go

4 young men – 2 years – in the fight of a lifetime to be good fathers.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
87 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Captured over two years, Daddy Don’t Go is a feature length documentary about four disadvantaged fathers in New York City as they struggle to beat the odds and defy the deadbeat dad stereotype.

Featured review

Every American must see this film. Why is it so heartbreakingly hard—even impossible—to be a decent dad in America if you're poor? Daddy Don't Go should sear the nation's conscience.
Kathryn Edin
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University


Daddy Don’t Go captures two years in the lives of four disadvantaged fathers in New York City as they fight to defy the odds against them. Alex is a single father who lives with his toddler son in a decaying Harlem shelter. Nelson is a former Latin King gang member and full-time daddy to his young son and his partner Rebecca’s two daughters. Roy is an ex-offender who won full custody of his son when the boy’s mother succumbed to drug addiction. Omar won full-custody of his three children but struggles to manage his daughter's mental health issues. By allowing the viewer extraordinary access into the lives of its subjects, Daddy Don’t Go removes the negative lens through which underprivileged fathers are currently viewed and shatters the “deadbeat dad” stereotype.


In her clear-sighted portrait, Abt maturely and poignantly captures the reality of (her subjects)...A depiction of not only paternal devotion and sacrifice, but also the difficulty of breaking cycles of personal and parental neglect and trauma, this stirring film derives much of its power from its non-judgmental, warts-and-all perspective on its subjects.
Nick Schager
Daddy Don't Go challenges skeptics and gives otherwise marginalized men the chance to be appreciated for loving, not forgetting about, their seeds.
Matt Barone
Tribeca Film
We're thrilled as one of the largest child welfare agencies in the country to screen Daddy Don't Go for professionals working with fathers. It was truly eye-opening and inspiring, and made us look at how we serve fathers in a different light.
Sabine Chery
LMSW, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Administration for Children's Services
Daddy Don't Go paints a necessary mosaic of fatherhood through the inspiring stories of four New York City fathers. As an agency, Fathers Incorporated is strengthen by films like this. Daddy Don't Go gives voice and context to the much needed work of building stronger families by investing in building stronger fathers.
Kenneth Braswell
Executive Director, Fathers Incorporated
An effective response to media conversations that too often make the epidemic of absent fathers seem like a simple case of individual choice, Emily Abt's Daddy Don't Go follows four young New Yorkers who very much want to be there for their children. Adding the kind of human perspective that is essential in statistics-based policy debates about, for example, America's incarceration rate, the affecting doc will be welcome on TV after its fest run. Bottom line: This sympathetic doc offers real-world insight into absent-father epidemic.
John DeFore
Hollywood Reporter
Daddy Don't Go, the latest from Emily Abt, is garnering attention not only because of its subject matter, but also because of the way it was filmed; Abt followed fathers for over two years in order to delve into the issues that low-income fathers face. A story of perseverence, it is a film that shows viewers how men can still be present fathers despite having limited means and facing certain obstacles.
Elle Lenonsis
This new film from director Emily Abt is arguably one of the year's most touching documentaries. Abt's film is non-judgemental, instead it offers up four singular stories with a great deal of respect and tenderness given to each respective narrative. It's an emotional piece of work, but it's one that had to be made and now needs to be seen.
Joshua Brunsting

Awards and Screenings

Director Commentary

I’m a former New York City caseworker and Daddy Don’t Go is my third documentary feature captured within the context of urban poverty. Daddy Don’t Go pays homage to every man I’ve ever met who negates the “deadbeat dad” stereotype with a deep love for his children. These men, much like my own father, are often trying to be the dads they themselves never had. Yet despite their best efforts, they are often treated as “second-class parents” by government agencies and the family court system. The negative lens through which urban fathers are often viewed can only be undone by work from many angles – political, legal and social. I want to contribute to this effort by bringing new and positive images of urban fatherhood to a national audience.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Resources for Educators

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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