I am so excited to announce the new "Roger Ebert New Director's Prize," which is being established at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival. The festival, which runs from October 9th through the 23rd, will give this inaugural award to honor the sort of new and exciting artistic voices that were routinely championed throughout the extraordinary career of my late husband. This accolade will be annually presented to a talented director in recognition of his/her first or second film. The 13 directors competing for the award this year have films featured in the festival's New Director's Competition.
Roger was so perceptive about new ways to see the world, and when he spotted that talent in filmmakers he would go out of his way to introduce the world to those exciting, fresh visions. I know he would be happy to know that the Festival is honoring him in this manner, and I thank Michael Kutza, the festival's founder.
Roger had served on the festival jury and was also a presenter in past years. Ten years ago Roger hosted a retrospective screening of "Who's That Knocking At My Door." That film, originally called "I Call First," was the directorial debut of Martin Scorsese and Roger discovered and championed it at its festival debut in 1967.
“Through the Chicago International Film Festival, Roger fell in love with the idea of a space where audiences and filmmakers were treated as equals, where discoveries could be made,” said Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival, in a press release. “This award is one more way to keep his memory, and his contributions, alive.”
Filmmakers eligible for the 2014 award include Arnold de Parscau ("Ablations"), Sebastián Schindel ("The Boss, Anatomy of a Crime"), Juan Francisco Olea ("El Cordero"), Jamshid Mahmoudi ("A Few Cubic Meters of Love"), July Jung ("A Girl at My Door"), Asaf Korman ("Next to Her"), Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson ("Paris of the North"), Roberto Flores Prieto ("Pink Noise"), Simon Blake ("Still"), Tamar van den Dop ("Supernova"), Jorge Pérez Solano ("La Tirisia"), Kanu Behl ("Titli") and Ronnie Sandahl ("Underdog").
The Roger Ebert Award will be presented during the festival's annual awards night on Friday, October 17th, at The Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, 20 E. Chestnut Street. For the full festival line-up, visit the official CIFF site.