UNH Law to screen ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ lead discussion on civics

** File ** In this file photo, Gregory Peck is shown as attorney Atticus Finch, a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape, in a scene from the 1962 movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." The film is among the American Film Institute's best courtroom drama movies. (AP Photo) Anonymous

On Sunday, the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education will screen To Kill a Mockingbird as part of a multiyear statewide program designed to foster conversations with the public on law, justice, and civics.

The screening will take place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Service in Concord. There will be a break midway through the movie, and a light snack will be provided. The program was made possible with support from New Hampshire Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

New Hampshire Humanities awarded a Community Project Grant to NHICE 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 local team, consisting of an attorney, a teacher and a high school student will lead the community discussions that accompany all film showings.

For the Sunday kick-off event, the team will consist of Patrick Anderson, Colby-Sawyer College humanities professor and film expert; Julia Peabody-Harhigh, Concord High School senior; and NHICE board of trustees member, Civics 603 organizer and former federal prosecutor Dina Michael Chaitowitz.

The organizers of Lights, Camera, Civics! hope that 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, for example, panelists and audience members will likely discuss racism, intolerance and segregation – the 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 president. “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 in a small fictitious Southern town during the Depression, local lawyer Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, is appointed to represent a man 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 in New York City.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register via Eventbrite, please visit eventbrite.com/e/nhices-lights-camera-civics-project-kickoff-event-tickets-53841433176 (or go to Eventbrite and search for this event). Contact Martha Madsen at martha@constitutionallyspeakingnh.org for more information about Lights, Camera, Civics!, including how to participate in the program or arrange a showing in your county. Learn more about New Hampshire Humanities at nhhumanities.org.

Jayme Simoes

Author: Insider Staff

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