Sheila writes: The Rogerebert.com team was heartbroken to learn of the untimely death of director Prashant Bhargava on May 15. Rogerebert.com contributor and Far-Flung Correspondent Omer M. Mozaffar wrote a beautiful tribute to Bhargava on Rogerebert.com, saying, "He was a true auteur. Some auteurs resist categories and forms, rebelling against them. Some auteurs, push envelopes of structure and content. For Prashant, all the tools, genres, and techniques were options in his pallet, fusing various cultures and styles into a unique piece. In other words, he was not bound by the limitations of the equipment or conventions of the media available to him."
Above: The Demanders: Jana Monji, Roger Ebert, Jim Emerson, Steven Boone, Odie Henderson, Donald Liebenson. In absentia: Jeff Shannon, Kevin B. Lee. Reflected in TV: Wael Khairy. Steak 'n Shake shake courtesy of Michal Oleszczyk, who also took this photo with my camera.
Every once in a while circumstances have conspired to keep me from attending Ebertfest, but the main thing that draws me back are the people I get to see and watch movies with while I'm there, from David Bordwell (with whom I rode from Madison to Champaign-Urbana) to Festival Co-Conspirator Joan Cohl to The Man Himself, Roger Ebert, whose presence animates the event, even when he isn't in the on-stage spotlight.
For me, there were no major discoveries or revelations this year -- like, say, Jeff Nichols' "Shotgun Stories" or Yôjirô Takita's "Departures" or the astounding, mind-blowing 70mm print of Jacques Tati's "PlayTime" in past Ebertfests -- but that almost seemed beside the point. (Though I highly recommend a snappy, endlessly inventive low-budget picture called "Citizen Kane." It's terrific!)
I'm happiest hanging around, in the Virginia Theatre or the "green room" (where participants gather for lunch and dinner) with, to name but a few, some of The Demanders (a small group of writers I work with who cover VOD) or the Far-Flung Correspondents, who write about movies from their home bases all over the world: Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, South Korea... even Chicago.
Something nice happened to us while we were preparing the schedule for Ebertfest 2012, which plays April 25-29 at the Virginia Theater (above) in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. We'd invited Patton Oswalt to attend with his "Big Fan. He agreed and went one additional step: "I'd like to personally choose a film to show to the students, and discuss it."
Marie writes: I received the following from intrepid club member Sandy Kahn and my eyes widened at the sight of it. It's not every day you discover a treasure trove of lost Hollywood jewelry!
Grace Kelly is wearing "Joseff of Hollywood"chandelier earrings in the film "High Society" (1965)(click image to enlarge.)
• "Patang," by Prashant Bhargava
I visited India only once, for less than two weeks, but I left a part of my heart there. I can't say I know it well, but I know how it made me feel, and it seemed impossibly exotic and absolutely comfortable at the same time: I was curiously at home in a strange land.