By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE RETURNS TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO CELEBRATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF “TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”

AFI Brings Special Screening to the White House Followed by National Television Broadcast
President Obama to Introduce Both Events

LOS ANGELES, CA, April 4, 2012 – The American Film Institute (AFI), in conjunction with USA Network and Universal Pictures, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the White House on Thursday, April 5 and with the nation on Saturday, April 7. AFI was created in the White House Rose Garden in 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson set a national mandate to “bring together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators and young men and women who wish to pursue the art form as their life’s work.”

President Obama will introduce the film at a special screening in the White House Family Theater with an audience that includes children from DC area schools as well as Mary Badham, who portrayed Scout in the film; Gregory Peck’s family, including wife Veronique; and AFI Trustees Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of Sony Corporation, Ron Meyer, President and COO of Universal Studios and Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, is also expected to attend. President Obama will then celebrate the film with the nation through a special primetime broadcast on USA Network at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on April 7.

“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,” said Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel on which the movie is based. “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.”

“TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is an American treasure – a film of family and fatherhood, justice and equality – all so richly embodied in the character of Atticus Finch,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “We are honored to screen the film in the White House, where AFI was born, and to partner with USA Network and Universal Pictures to inspire generations of movie lovers to discover and rediscover this classic American film.”

AFI proposed the anniversary celebration to the White House in early January and learned last month that President Obama would be available to participate on April 5 – a timely date as it marks the late Gregory Peck’s 96th birthday. Peck had a long association with the American Film Institute, serving as Founding Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1969, and receiving the AFI Life Achievement Award – the highest honor for a career in film – in 1989.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ranks 25th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list of greatest American films, and AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest hero in this history of American film when it announced its AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list in 2003. AFI also recognized the film for its #1 ranking of Best Courtroom Dramas in AFI’s 10 Top 10 list and its #2 ranking on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers America’s Most Inspiring Films list, just behind IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The film, which premiered in Los Angeles on Christmas day in 1962 and opened wide in 1963, was directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Alan J. Pakula.

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.

AFI preserves the legacy of America’s film heritage for future generations through the AFI Archive, comprised of rare footage from across the history of the moving image and the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, an authoritative record of American films from 1893 to the present.
AFI honors the artists and their work through a variety of annual programs and special events, including the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI Awards. Celebrating its 40th year in 2012, the AFI Life Achievement Award has remained the highest honor for a career in film while AFI Awards, the Institute’s almanac for the 21st century, honors the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers. And as the largest nonprofit exhibitor in the United States, AFI offers film enthusiasts a variety of events throughout the year, including AFI Fest presented by Audi, the Institute’s annual celebration of excellence in global cinema; AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs, the largest documentary festival in the U.S., celebrating its 10th edition this year; and year-round programming at the AFI Silver Theatre in the Washington, DC area.

AFI educates the next generation of storytellers at its world-renowned AFI Conservatory, named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter for the quality of its instructors and speakers, and its “glittering parade of alumni.” AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Aspiring artists learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling.

For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.

About USA Network
The #1 network in all of basic cable, USA Network is seen in 115 million U.S. homes. USA is a leader in scripted programming with a powerful stable of originals including POLITICAL ANIMALS, SUITS, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, WHITE COLLAR, ROYAL PAINS, BURN NOTICE, PSYCH, COVERT AFFAIRS, COMMON LAW, FAIRLY LEGAL and IN PLAIN SIGHT. The network offers 52 weeks of spectacular live television with WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW and is home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, a broad portfolio of acquired series and entertainment events. A trailblazer in digital innovation and storytelling, USA is defining, driving and setting the industry standard for Social TV. USA is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal. The award-winning website is located at http://www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.

About Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniveral. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

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“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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