Monday, October 02, 2006

To Kill a Mockingbird

The first film I ever saw was To Kill A Mockingbird. I was the same age as the young girl Scout, the narrator of the story, and the film made a profound impression. To Kill A Mockingbird is still one of the iconic American stories of the struggle for racial justice and the quest for human rights in a small southern town. And though To Kill A Mockingbird takes place during the Great Depression, the film was released in 1962 as the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. It’s a great film that fueled people’s desire to never return to the days of segregation and subjugation, and it’s a very human story.

As I head down to Montgomery, Alabama for the first night of the Southern Circuit Arts Tour where I’ll show State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism in 8 cities over 10 days , I look back at my life as a filmmaker and see that many decisions I’ve made about stories that have captured my imagination or characters who’ve appeared in my films, may have been influenced by To Kill A Mockingbird---from my first film Resurgence about worker’s rights and the Ku Klux Klan, filmed in North Carolina and Mississippi to Presumed Guilty where one of the lawyer characters was actually nicknamed “Atticus Finch” for his calm obsession with truth and justice.

What if Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, were to come and be in the audience tonight at the Capri Theater in Montgomery? She only lives a 2 hour drive away in Monroeville, but she’s a famous recluse, so I’ll just have to imagine that she’s there in spirit.