By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
The Siegelman documentary will be shown in Montgomery after all.
APR has made arrangements to show the film at Troy University’s Davis Theater Oct. 1. Tickets are on sale now through this link.
But it wasn’t easy.
“Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman,” as the documentary is officially named, was originally set to be shown at the Capri Theater in Montgomery in July. But former Federal Prosecutor Leura Canary, who serves on the Capri board, convinced her fellow board members in June to rescind that rental agreement.
Montgomery residents were outraged, and a heated Capri board meeting a few days later ended in nasty exchanges but no change in the vote.
That’s when APR owners Bill and Susan Britt decided to step in.
“When we heard that the documentary showing in Montgomery had been cancelled because of pressure from the so-called political elites, it wasn’t surprising,” Bill Britt said. “We don’t like censorship at APR, and we decided we’d do whatever we could to give Montgomery residents an opportunity to see the film, to judge for themselves the contents of it.”
That was easier said than done, it turned out.
Written and directed by Steve Wimberly, “Atticus” outlines the events that led to former Gov. Don Siegelman being convicted of campaign finance felonies and serving several years in federal prison.
Much of that story took place in Montgomery, and the city served as a backdrop for much of the documentary.
Siegelman served as governor in this city. He was tried in this city and found guilty by a jury that resides in this city. Many of the people featured in the documentary reside in Montgomery.
And yet, time and again, APR ran into fear and bureaucracy when trying to find a location to show the film. Every venue was surprisingly busy or uninterested in accepting their usual rental fees to show “Atticus.” Some never returned calls. Others had exorbitant insurance demands.
Enter: Troy president Dr. Jack Hawkins.
Officials at Troy were cautious as well. After initially agreeing verbally to the rental of the Davis Theater, APR received word that only Hawkins could approve the rental.
There was one small problem. Hawkins was in Vietnam.
Bill Britt tried him through email anyway, laying out the details and asking for assistance. Hawkins responded right back, saying he was writing from China Beach, where he took his platoon of Marines 50 years earlier.
“We are committed to freedom of speech and transparency,” Hawkins wrote. “Within the Academy and within a free society there is little room for censorship.”
That did the trick. A contract was prepared and signed within days.
“Getting behind showing this film in Montgomery was an easy call for us,” Britt said. “The Constitution gives us rights to free speech, and that includes watching a film that might upset the high and mighty. We operate on simple principals, one of which is to lay out the facts the best we can and let the people make up their minds.”