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Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Michael Barker and Directors Ramin Bahrani and Haifaa Al-Mansour Join Ebertfest Lineup

CHAMPAIGN, IllinoisSony Pictures Classics Co-President Michael Barker joins the lineup at the 16th annual Ebertfest Film Festival, with a screening of the critically acclaimed Saudi film “Wadjda” and an interview with its director Haifaa Al-Mansour.

“Wadjda” is a spirited coming-of-age story that provides a rare glimpse into contemporary life for girls and women in Saudi Arabia. It has been nominated for multiple awards including an Independent Spirit Award. Not only is “Wadjda” the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, it is also the first made by a female Saudi director. Al-Mansour creates a poignant picture of childhood hopes and dreams that resonates universally.

“We are fortunate to have Michael Barker return to Ebertfest, as he has conducted some of our most in-depth and revealing Q&As, such as the one he did with the usually reserved Ang Lee,” said Chaz Ebert, president of The Ebert Company and Ebert Digital, LLC.

Also returning this year is Ramin Bahrani with his film “Goodbye Solo.” In talking about his 4-star review of this film, Roger Ebert said that Bahrani has established himself as a gifted, confident filmmaker with ideas that involve who and where we are at this time. Previously announced for the festival are directors Oliver Stone, Spike Lee and Steve James. “This festival has quite a lineup, and we know Roger would have approved,” said Chaz Ebert. The complete festival lineup will be released later this week.

Festival passes are available now, and individual tickets go on sale April 1. Go to for more information or to buy passes.

Media contact: Robin Beaman | 312-208-1212 |

or Shawn Taylor | 312-371-6260 |

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