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'Mockingbird' screened at White House

April 5, 2012 at 9:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama Thursday hosted a screening of "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the White House to celebrate the U.S. film classic's 50th anniversary.

The guest list for the screening included students from Washington-Lee High School, in Arlington, Va., as well as Mary Badham Wilt, who played Scout Finch in the film, and Veronique Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of attorney Atticus Finch.

The screening is part of a celebration by the American Film Institute, USA Network and Universal Pictures.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three, including one for Horton Foote for his adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a family and a town in the U.S. South dealing with issues of justice and racial equality when Atticus Finch defends a black man, Tom Robinson, wrongly accused of rape.

"I'm deeply honored that President Obama will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by introducing it to a national audience," Lee said in a statement issued by AFI, USA Network and Universal Pictures. "I believe it remains the best translation of a book to film ever made, and I'm proud to know that Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch lives on -- in a world that needs him now more than ever."

Obama introduced the film at the White House Family Theater screening, calling Lee's novel a "timeless American classic and one of his favorite books," the White House said.

A remastered version of the film will air Saturday on USA Network.

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