‘Mockingbird’ Is Film Festival’s Winter Classic

Released in 1962, the film was produced by the late Alan J. Pakula, who was a South Fork part-timer
Gregory Peck and Brock Peters in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

The Hamptons International Film Festival never sleeps. Just when you might think it is on a hiatus, along comes its annual Winter Classic screening.

 “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which sold more than 40 million copies, will be shown on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Guild Hall.

Released in 1962, the film was produced by the late Alan J. Pakula, who was a South Fork part-timer. It was directed by Robert Mulligan and stars Gregory Peck as the attorney Atticus Finch, for which he won a best actor Oscar. It was nominated for seven additional Academy Awards, including best picture, and the playwright Horton Foote took home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. The film marked the screen debut of Robert Duvall.

“We’ve been doing this for eight years now,” said David Nugent, the festival’s artistic director, who selects the films with Alec Baldwin. “Last year we did ‘McCabe and Mrs. Miller,’ which is honestly one of my all time favorite movies. Vilmos Zsigmond, the cinematographer, who also shot a lot of Spielberg’s movies and many other wonderful films, had just passed away, and I had been thinking about him. And it’s such a winter movie.”

In previous years, the selections were “Vertigo” and “The Searchers,” which are often regarded as among the great movies of all time. “We liked digging into that and seeing what people think of them and how they hold up.”

Mr. Nugent said that after the festival each year he tries to catch up on his reading, and this year he realized he had never read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or seen the film. “I decided to do both, and I really enjoyed it, especially the movie. Alec and I talked about it, and we both felt that some of the themes it engages, among them racial inclusion and trying to imagine yourself in somebody else’s shoes, would be good things to explore at this time.”

Mr. Nugent noted that with the approach of the festival’s 25th year, he and his colleagues have been researching its history, and he discovered that Pakula had received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, two years before his death.

One element of the Winter Classic program is an extended discussion between Mr. Nugent and Mr. Baldwin, which follows the screening. With the issues of race, the justice system, and ethics raised by the film, this year’s conversation is likely to be spirited. 

Tickets are $22, $20 for members.