Dear Ebertfest Family:
Our festival is just a couple short months away and I couldn’t be more excited! I was watching the news about our former Ebertfest guest, Chazz Palminteri, taking “Bronx Tale” to Broadway, and it reminded me of what a great guest he was when we screened his autobiographical film at the Virginia Theater.
Also, when the great Debbie Reynolds passed away, there was much talk about the greatness of “Singin' in the Rain,” and we got to experience that first hand when Roger interviewed Donald O’ Connor on the stage in 2003.
As we are planning our 19th annual festival this year, I can’t help but reflect back on the many memorable moments from last year’s event, including:
· The colorful Q&A with Guillermo del Toro after his lushly beautiful gothic drama, “Crimson Peak”
· Hearing from Angela Allen after the screening of the classic film “The Third Man”
· Presenting the first-ever Ebert Humanitarian Award to directors Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young along with other very special guests of “Disturbing the Peace” including film subjects Chen Alon and Sulaiman Khatib from Israel and Palestine
· Welcoming director Paul Cox back to the fest for his 6th visit with his new film “Force of Destiny.” He was overjoyed to be with us once more at Ebertfest with his lovely fiancé. Sadly, Paul passed away shortly afterwards. We miss him.
· Watching the story of the Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson play out in “Love & Mercy”
· Learning about the “nuns on the bus” in the documentary film “Radical Grace,” and having Father Michael Pfleger join the filmmakers Rebecca Parrish, Nicole Bernardi-Reis and composer Heather McIntosh on stage
· Screening 2 silent films (“Body and Soul” and “L’Inhumaine”) with orchestral accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra and Renee Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project for the first time in the history of the festival
· Screening 3 films in 35mm print, “Northfork”, “Eve’s Bayou” and “Blow Out”, and welcoming the filmmakers Michael Polish, Kasi Lemmons, and Nancy Allen. We strive to screen in celluloid every chance we get!
To top off all of these great memories, we had amazing weather, profound academic panel discussions and so much FUN! We can’t wait to do it again and make this festival one of our greatest yet!
I am working with our Festival Director Nate Kohn and we have almost completed the selection of the best films and guests for your pleasure. And Assistant Festival Director, Casey Ludwig, and our staff are working hard to bring together all the elements for another inspiring program. We are eager to announce some of the great things we’ve been working on very soon. So stay tuned to this spot because we can't wait to spill the beans. I am tempted to tell you some of them today, but that is not allowed.
In the meantime, I want to encourage you to MARK YOUR CALENDARS for our 19th annual Ebertfest, happening April 19-23, 2017. We will once again, be gathered together at the historic Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign. Our academic panels will be held at the Hyatt Place Hotel, also located in downtown Champaign.
If you have not done so already, please make sure to secure your festival pass. This year, in addition to our regular festival pass, we are offering a “4-pack of passes” being sold at a 15% discount. We hope you will take advantage of this great offer and come with old festival friends, or invite someone new to attend with you and show them what a special festival we have!
For our out-of-town guests – please make sure to secure your hotel arrangements as soon as possible. We have special rates with our partner hotels in the area. You can find this list by clicking this link.
On behalf of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, I want to send a heart-felt thanks to you for your commitment and support of our event. We are looking forward to another successful year in 2017 and can’t wait to see you there!