The 19th annual installment of Ebertfest, the film festival co-founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz Ebert at the University of Illinois College of Media, is slated to run from Wednesday, April 19th, through Sunday, April 23rd, next year. Passes for the festival are now on sale and are available at the official sites of Ebertfest and its main venue, The Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, IL. They can also be purchased by calling the theater box office at 217-356-9063. Passes cost $150 plus processing and cover every screening scheduled for the festival. Only 1,000 passes will be sold. Panel discussions and other related festival events are free and will be held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Presiding over Ebertfest are co-founder and producer Chaz Ebert and festival director Nate Kohn. "I can't believe that we will be hosting the 19th edition of this film festival," said Chaz. "When we started, we thought it would be a specialty event that would last perhaps a year. But it became a tradition and Roger and I both fell in love with the festival and its audiences. We are so fortunate to still get great guests and films, and to have the facility at the beautiful movie palace, the Virginia Theater, to show movies on celluloid as well as in 70 mm. And our world-reknowned projectionist, James Bond, makes even our digital projections special. We have had audience members fall in love here, and rumor has it, even create families here. So this is no ordinary film festival. Roger said that movies are giant machines that generate empathy. Well, at Ebertfest you have empathy both on the screen and off. I am a big believer in endorphins and believe me, plenty of endorphins are engendered during the course of the festival."
From rare archival prints of iconic classics to the latest and greatest works of modern cinema, Ebertfest's lineup has it all. Though the official titles for 2017 will not be announced until several weeks prior to the festival, cinephiles can simply search through the archives to get a sampling of the phenomenal guests and screenings offered each year. A few past visitors to the festival include Nancy Allen, Steven Apkon, Ramin Bahrani, Renée Baker, Michael Barker, Seymour Bernstein, Veronica Cartwright, Arthur C. Clarke, Paul Cox, Billy Crudup, Guillermo del Toro, Keir Dullea, Robert Forster, Andrew Harvey, Werner Herzog, Norman Jewison, Charlie Kaufman, Kris Kristofferson, Neil LaBute, Brie Larson, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Kasi Lemmons, Richard Linklater, Guy Maddin, John Malkovich, Andrew Miano, Bennett Miller, Gregory Nava, Tim Blake Nelson, Jeff Nichols, Bill Nighy, Patton Oswalt, Chazz Palminteri, Rebecca Parrish, Father Michael Pfleger, Michael Polish, Alan Polsky, James Ponsoldt, Alex Proyas, Bob Rafelson, Alan Rickman, Gil Robertson, Paul Schrader, Jason Segel, Michael Shannon, Timothy Spall, Oliver Stone, Rita Taggart, Anna Thomas, David Warner, Paul Weitz, Haskell Wexler, Scott Wilson, Shailene Woodley and Terry Zwigoff. One of the festival's most beloved return guests, Tilda Swinton, led audience members in an unforgettable conga line in honor of Roger mere weeks after his death in 2013.
Join in the Ebertfest conga line next year and meet filmmakers, critics and movie buffs from around the world. There simply isn't a cinematic labor of love quite like it. Individual tickets for each screening are $15 ($13 for students and seniors). Visitors interested in becoming volunteers or sponsors can contact the festival's assistant director, Casey Ludwig, at 217-300-1375 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 19th Annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival will take place next year from April 19 to April 23rd. To order your festival passes, click here.