Literary Classic

Village Lights organizes panel talk,
film showing of ‘Mockingbird’

Events designed to mark 50-year
anniversary of literary classic

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(November 2010) – It’s been 50 years since the publication of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. To mark this milestone, Village Lights Bookstore in downtown Madison, Ind., is teaming with the Ohio Theatre to present a special screening of the classic film based on the novel.

To Kill A Mickingbird book cover

The idea to do so belongs to Nathan Montoya and Anne Vestuto, proprietors of the Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main Street. Montoya called it an “ideal opportunity to promote great literature, classic film, awareness of perennial issues of bigotry and social injustice, and, in an immediate sense, to help the Ohio Theatre.”
All ticket sales will be through the Ohio Theatre box office and proceeds from book sales will help offset expenses incurred in producing this event. The novel sells for $15.99 for a paperback version and $25 for a hardcover edition, and will also be available during the screening in the theatre lobby.
Although it was written half a century ago, “the writing is superb and its themes are timeless,” Montoya said. The novel addresses such issues as racial injustice, bigotry and class and gender roles in the American Deep South of the 1930s.
The plot and characters of the novel are loosely based on the author’s observations of family, neighbors and an event that occurred near Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Ala., in 1936 when she was 10 years old. The main character, attorney Atticus Finch, was based on her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, an attorney and editor and publisher of the Monroeville newspaper.
Lee spent 21/2 years writing “To Kill A Mockingbird.” She was so frustrated at one point that she tossed the manuscript out of her window and into the snow. Her agent wisely had her retrieve it, and the novel was an instant success upon publication.
“To Kill A Mockingbird” is a recognized modern classic, having been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, said Montoya. It is required course reading in many high schools and colleges across the nation and has been placed atop the American Library Associations’ top-10 list of most challenged books.
A special screening of “To Kill A Mockingbird” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at the Ohio Theatre. It is directly across the street from the bookstore at 105 E. Main St. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 11 and under.
“We want to help cultivate a larger audience for our irreplaceable, historic, Main Street movie theatre,” said Montoya. “This is a good beginning for a classical film screening series,” he said.
Five members of the Hanover College faculty and administration will be part of a panel discussion of the book and film that will take place before the screening. The panel includes Hanover president Sue DeWine, Dr. Kathy Barbour, Dr. Skip Dine-Young, Dr. Sarah Vossmeier and Kelly Joyce. Montoya hopes this will “enhance intellectual and cultural dialogue between Hanover College and the Madison community.”
The panel members were chosen through discussions with friends and customers who are members of the Hanover College faulty and recommended their colleagues, he said. “We are very grateful to panel members and those who would have liked to have participated but could not,” Montoya said.
Additional funding and assistance has been provided by two student organizations at Hanover College: Kaleidoscope, which promotes cultural diversity by educating fellow students about current minority issues; and Love Out Loud, an advocacy group for equal rights focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally issues.
“The film is a much acclaimed film,” said Tony Ratcliff, who owns The Ohio Theatre with his wife, Laura. If this screening is successful, more classic film screenings may follow, he said. “There’s no shortage of really good films.”
Originally from the Cincinnati area, the Ratcliffs purchased the the theater 14 years ago. “My wife and I had been looking at different areas and this became available,” said Tony. They did a fair amount of remodeling but kept the original history of the 1938 structure as much as possible.
Ratcliff said he hopes this screening will “bring awareness of the book and movie to a new generation who has not seen it. It’s definitely a movie worth watching for all generations.”
Not merely a bookstore, but a local community culture center, Village Lights plays host to a wide variety of local art happenings, author readings, poetry recitals, and live music performances throughout the year.

• For more information, contact the Village Lights Bookstore at (812) 265-1800 or the Ohio Theatre at (812) 273-4821.

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