Not to nitpick, but if state-of-the-art theaters want to de-stigmatize digital projection, they should begin by labeling it as such. Take a tip from New York's Film Forum, which recently hosted the admirably-titled film series "This Is DCP."
The DCP of "To Kill a Mockingbird" looked great. The lush spectrum of greys in the black-and-white color palette were thrown into beautiful relief -- particularly in those crisp close-ups in the opening credits. When Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) gives his agonized testimony, the sweat on his brow glistens. Robert Duvall as wordless Boo Radley glowed like an apparition. Gregory Peck's deep intonations during Atticus Finch's courtroom monologue rumbled with passion. There's still something sanitary about digital projection -- it doesn't sweep me away like the vivid grain of a pristine 35mm -- but, nonetheless, it looked and sounded superb.
Mary Badham (Scout), Little Rock Nine member Terrence Roberts and civil rights attorney Connie Rice were on hand for a discussion afterward. At this point, the audience's high from the film started to sink. Instead of talking about the film, Badham dominated the Q&A with long-winded stories from her childhood, and pushed an inner-city schools education agenda--and moderator Ellen Harrington didn't intervene. "Ignorance is the root of all evil, and education is the key to freedom," Badham said. Roberts cut through the platitudes: "That would work in a universe that didn't revere ignorance."
An unexpected delight from the evening was the French New Wave photography exhibit in the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre lobby. Sipping red wine while looking at off-set pictures of Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre and Francois Truffaut during the making of "Jules and Jim" is a good start to any night.