The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the 2014 Ebertfest, including appearances by Oliver Stone & Spike Lee.
View image The most famous phone box in the world.
After the screening of Bill Forsyth's long-unavailable masterpiece "Housekeeping" at Ebertfest (about which more later) somebody asked him why he used the word "moving" in a key piece of dialog rather than novelist Marilynne Robinson's word-of-choice, "drifting." Forsyth said he didn't remember for certain, but imagined it was because "drifting" was simply "too on-the-nose," too "poetic" sounding. Actress Christine Lahti, who played the character speaking the line in question, and who joined Forsyth on stage (neither of them having seen the movie, or each other, for 21 years) confirmed that "drifting" works beautifully on the page of a novel, but wouldn't have sounded right if spoken aloud on the screen. So much artistry is reflected in that simple explanation. What seemed at first like kind of a dumb, nit-picky question was justified by the answer.
Forsyth spun another tale of adaptation that mirrored the oblique and inevitable comic structure of one of his movies:
View image David Bordwell and Bill Forsyth on an Ebertfest panel. (photy by Thompson McClellan)
My Ebertfest has already been made for me because I spoke to Bill Forsyth yesterday and, at one point, he said "Great." This is major -- particularly for a guy who, with his friends, went around saying "Great" in Gordon John Sinclair's Scottish accent from "Gregory's Girl" for years. It's a well-known fact. Bella, bella.
In honor of tomorrow's Ebertfest screening I went back and dug up my original 1987 review of Forsyth's "Housekeeping" -- which was the #1 film on my Ten Best list that year (along with such films as John Huston's "The Dead," Tim Hunter's "River's Edge," Alain Cavalier's "Therese" and John Boorman's "Hope and Glory"): Ruthie (Sara Walker) and Lucille (Andrea Burchill) are skating on thin ice. The orphaned sisters, now going through a gawky teen-age phase, spin silently in circles on the frozen surface of Fingerbone Lake. In the distance, a cluster of laughing children and barking dogs play rambunctiously, but Ruthie and Lucille keep to themselves. They don't like the noise.
My Ebertfest has already been made for me because I spoke to Bill Forsyth yesterday and, at one point, he said "Great." This is major — particularly for a guy who, with his friends, went around saying "Great" in Gordon John Sinclair's Scottish accent from "Gregory's Girl" for years. It's a well-known fact. Bella, bella
The 10th Anniversary Ebertfest begins tonight in Urbana-Champaign. It is with some melancholy that I write these words on a legal pad in a hospital bed in Chicago. After consulting with my doctors, I have decided it may not be prudent to try to make the journey today with a fractured hip.
PRESS RELEASE — Roger Ebert is recovering at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after surgery to repair a hip fracture. He tripped and fell at the Pritikin Center in Florida, where he had gone to continue physical therapy in preparation for his film festival. The staff at Pritikin was very helpful in their quick response to the incident.
The Prince of Denmark, Yukio Mishima and the Incredible Hulk are planning to convene in Champaign-Urbana, IL, for Roger Ebert's Film Festival (April 23-27, 2008). Joining them (off-screen) for the Ebertfest No. 10 will be directors Paul Schrader, Bill Forsyth, Sally Potter and actors Christine Lahti, Aida Turturro, Joe Pantoliano, among others. The emphasis is still on the (re-)discovery of "overlooked" films (with that term defined however Ebert wants to define it), but the festival is now known simply as Ebertfest. The full schedule is here:
PARK CITY, Utah -- Mugging by postcard is the white-collar crime of choice at the Sundance Film Festival. Filmmakers fly to Utah with suitcases filled with postcards advertising their films, which they hand out to anybody who looks vaguely promising. I have 19 in my pocket right now.