Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.
We reached out to our contributors and invited them to send us an image and a sentence or two about Roger. What we got was a lovely, funny, charming collection of images and memories.
JEFFREY WESTHOFF: At the Lake Street screening room, whenever someone asked Roger how he was doing, he invariably replied, "Tip Top!"
BRIAN TALLERICO: It's impossible to really put into words the feeling that goes through a young critic when the reason they fell in love with movies in the first place –gives them the "thumbs up". I remember being in the lobby of the AMC River East, waiting for a sound problem to be fixed on "The New World" (local critics will remember it sounded like everyone was underwater) when Roger and I made eye contact and he so casually gave me the gesture he made famous around the world. It was like waving or flashing a peace sign for other people and I'm sure it meant nothing to him in that moment but it was just unimaginably cool to me. I remember feeling like I belonged there, which can be tough for young writers swimming in the same pool as experienced veterans. And so I'll always think of a thumbs up when I think of Roger. I'm not sure I'd be here today without it.
NELL MINOW: Gene and Roger did not just make the movies exciting -- they made thinking and debating about the movies exciting. They began a conversation I am still enjoying, in many cases with friends I made at Ebertfest.
LISA NESSELSON: Like a pre-destined movie couple swearing their mutual hatred only to walk off into the sunset together later on, Roger at first swore he'd never use Twitter and then started a Twitter romance that -- as somebody who grew up in Chicago reading Roger in the Sun-Times -- I was thrilled to be part of whenever something I wrote caught Roger's fancy.
OLIVIA COLLETTE: Shares a favorite Twitter exchange:
Olivia: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is the only thing I can think of that doesn’t need more cowbell.
Roger: When I was writing “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” WHY didn’t I think of cowbells?
A lover of people.
From the balcony, 2014.
JANA J. MONJI: I never danced for my father, but I did get to dance for Roger Ebert (at Ebertfest).
PETER SOBCZYNSKI: The first film I ever discussed personally with Roger—via snail mail and at the tender age of 8.
JOYCE KULHAWIK: The high point of my professional career: going thumb to thumb with Roger in the balcony and him driving me around Chicago pointing out architecture by Mies van der Rohe AND Video Shmideo.
SEONGYONG CHO: He was always there for me, with kindness and generosity.
SUSAN WLOSCZYNA: Because of Roger, this line of dialogue pops into my head more often than you would think …
CRAIG D. LINDSEY: My favorite Roger can only be found here.
MARSHA MCCREADIE: Roger and I are both alums of the English Department. I heard many tales about him when I went to grad school there.
SCOUT TAFOYA: Roger taught me how personal and beautiful the art of criticism could be. His reviews contained so much of his amazing, storied life, and it brought us closer to him and the movies that touched him. It always felt like his relationship with cinema was second only to the bond he shared with his readers.
PABLO VILLACA: Roger brought people together to celebrate not only movies, but... well... Life Itself. And Ebertfest displayed that not only at the Virginia Theater, but everywhere.
ALI ARIKAN: "This is my happening and it freaks me out."
SCOTT JORDAN HARRIS: These words are on the back of Roger's autobiography, and always close to the front of my mind.
KRISHNA BALA SHENOI:
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