Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta is unveiling a new film series, “Screen Thoughts: Examining America’s Racial Struggles on the Screen” with host, writer and film reviewer Christine Merser. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 8, and Friday, Feb. 9, the “Screen Thoughts” series kicks things off with five-time Oscar winner “In the Heat of the Night.”

The 1968 Oscar winner for best picture, “In the Heat of the Night” is set in a racially divided small town in Mississippi. The film, which revolves around a black detective named Virgil Tibbs, portrayed by Sidney Poitier, who is reluctantly enlisted to help solve a murder investigation, explores themes of prejudice, systemic racism and social injustice. As Tibbs and the white police chief, played by Oscar winner Rod Steiger, work together on the case, they confront their own biases and tackle the deeply ingrained racism within the community. “In the Heat of the Night” is a thought-provoking film that sheds light on the pervasive racial tensions of the era and offers a searing critique of discrimination and inequality.

Each of the films in the series, which also includes the 1988 Gene Hackman film “Mississippi Burning,” and Gregory Peck classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” have interesting histories, both in their production and their reception by the public. “Screen Thoughts” series host Christine Merser will provide a 15-minute introduction to each film, offering insights without spoilers, and will lead a post-screening discussion around the film’s historical context, how it affected the public when it was released, and its continued value for society.

The fourth and final film of the series will be decided by viewers based on what they want to see on the big screen!

Merser, a writer and recent Maine replant, has been a film reviewer for “Screen Thoughts” for the past 10 years.

“I think that we humans are cemented in our point of view around explosive issues,” she said. “Stories can change hearts and minds, especially when they are viewed in the darkened theater, without pushing their way into your point of view in a debate over dinner. I love going to the movies.”

“In the Heat of the Night” will show at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, and 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., in Downtown Damariscotta. Subscriptions are available for the full series at $27 for adults and $18 for theater members. Tickets will also be sold individually at each screening for regular movie prices.

For more information, visit or by contacting the theater office at or (207) 563-3424.

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