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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Before Ebertfest: A (Brief) Introduction

Dear Readers, Ebertfest attendees, and everyone in between,

Before the festivities kicked off tonight, I wanted to make a brief introduction.

I’m Sam Fragoso, the writer Ebertfest selected to run the blog this year. For the next five days this space will serve as an outlet to reflect, ruminate, and discuss what’s happening inside the Virginia Theater. Hopefully, the movies– and my writings on those movies–will inspire discourse. To put it plainly: comments and conversation are welcome.

A bit about myself: I’m the founder of Movie Mezzanine, a site that would not exist if not for Roger Ebert. Additionally, my work has been published in The Atlantic, Forbes, The Dissolve, A.V. Club, and elsewhere, where I’ve done everything from interviewing Spike Lee to being underwhelmed by this year’s Oscars ceremony. Most importantly, here’s everything I’ve written for RogerEbert.com.

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To say that Roger changed my life feels like a gross understatement. His influence on my writing is immeasurable. But it’s Roger’s insistence on the need for empathy that most resonates as we enter our third festival without him. A quick glance at the rugged brown chair located at the back of the Virginia reveals an absence. No longer is there a smiling, inviting man sitting before us, signing books and shaking hands with warmth. In his place is Chaz, whose ability to host this festival is an impressive feat unto itself. But as the years go on, we're also getting to know more about this unique individual -- her fierce intelligence, often revealed in her sprawling, heartfelt speeches and introductions. Through her this festival has been reborn, and Roger's presence is unshakable, ever-present. As the movies unfurl before our eyes this year, I suspect every now and then you’ll see something on screen that reminds you of Roger. He’s here, and he always will be.

I’ll see you at the movies.

Sincerely,

– Sam


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