Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2010: To know a mockingbird


Movie review: ‘Hey Boo: Harper Lee and “To Kill a Mockingbird”‘

By Jennifer West

Review at a glance: “Hey Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird'” goes beyond the famed novel into the soul of its mysterious Alabama author.

Hey Boo Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee, center, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom
in 2007, in a scene from “Hey Boo.” Other recipients
are Brian Lamb, head of C-SPAN, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
president of Liberia.

To know Harper Lee is to know Alabama.

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalThe Monroeville native is a mysterious and quiet woman that only wrote one book in her lifetime. This year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” turned 50. An important documentary takes a look between the lines of the novel and Lee’s life.

“Hey Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird'” screens Sept. 26 at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

The movie explores many facets of the literary phenomenon, from the author herself to the civil rights movement entwined in the book’s DNA. Writer and director Mary Murphy possesses a passion for Lee that drives this doc. [Note: Murphy says that the festival version is a “work in progress.”]

We see an enlightening look into Lee’s childhood with neighbor and friend Truman Capote, her personal journey and her process as she writes the book. We also see her quiet retreat from the public eye after “Mockingbird’s” huge success. Insightful and rare interviews with her sister Alice Lee take us deep into the soul of the author.

Anna Quindlen, Tom Brokaw, James McBride, James Patterson, Wally Lamb and Oprah Winfrey offer informative and moving commentary. It is fascinating to see how many powerful people Lee’s novel has deeply touched.

This film is especially important to see for Alabamians touched by racism and the civil rights movement. State history is discussed in-depth in relation to the novel, which helped spark a new movement of freedom and state of mind in the Deep South.

In that sense, “Hey Boo” is required reading, ahem … required viewing.

Jennifer WestJennifer West (@thejenwestquest) won the Sidewalk Audience Choice award for her romantic comedy “Piece of Cake” in 2006, which she wrote and directed. She will manage the SideTalk panels at Sidewalk. And her blog, The Jen West Quest, has been featured in Health magazine.

“Hey Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird'” will screen at 11 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Harambe Room.

Video: “Hey Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird'” trailer


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