DERRY — The New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education (NHICE) will screen the film "To Kill a Mockingbird" as part of a multi-year statewide program designed to foster conversations with the public on law, justice, and civics.

The screening and post-movie discussion is Jan. 26 at Pinkerton Academy’s Stockbridge Theatre, 1 to 5 p.m. The program is made possible with support from New Hampshire Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

New Hampshire Humanities awarded NHICE the Community Project Grant for film screenings in all 10 New Hampshire counties to start multigenerational conversations through film about law, justice, and civics. NHICE selected "To Kill a Mockingbird" to kick off the "Lights, Camera, Civics!" program because of the civics, social, and justice issues it raises, and its broad appeal to a range of ages and demographics. A community discussion accompanying the film showing will be led by Heidi Parenti, Pinkerton Academy English teacher; Dina Michael Chaitowitz, NHICE trustee and former federal prosecutor, and a Pinkerton Academy high school student.

The organizers of "Lights, Camera, Civics!" hope the panel discussions accompanying its film showings will encourage civil conversation on sensitive topics and promote understanding among people with diverse viewpoints. In discussing "To Kill a Mockingbird," panelists and audience members will likely discuss racism, intolerance, and segregation — the famed movie’s central themes — as well as how personal opinion affects legal decision-making, and whether and what procedures are in place in the criminal justice system to protect against personal opinion taking hold of a criminal case.

“Movies help us to experience and understand each other and the world around us. They educate and enlighten us. And, they can lead to a meaningful and much-needed civil discourse,” said Martha Madsen, NHICE’s executive director. “They can serve as a catalyst for meaningful and thought-provoking conversations.”

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel came to film in 1962. Set a small fictitious Southern town during the Depression, local lawyer Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, is appointed to represent a male person of color falsely accused of raping a white woman. "To Kill a Mockingbird" won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Peck), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction. The novel was recently adapted for the theater, and the resulting play is currently being shown at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway in New York City.

The event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. To register, contact Dina Michael Chaitowitz at dinacivics@gmail.com. For more information about "Lights, Camera, Civics!," including how to arrange a showing in your county, contact Martha Madsen at martha.madsen@law.unh.edu. Learn more about New Hampshire Humanities at nhhumanities.org.

 

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