Oh My Goodness! The 19th Roger Ebert's Film Festival (Ebertfest) was awesome! The theme was Empathy, Kindness, Compassion and Forgiveness, and we welcomed filmmakers whose films, in one way or another, exemplified those principles, or in some cases, the need for them. NORMAN LEAR received the first "Ebert Humanitarian Award" given to a person rather than a movie after the doc about him by RACHEL GRADY, HEIDI EWING and BRENT MILLER ("Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You); ISABELLE HUPPERT flew in from Paris with "Elle"; GARY ROSS showed us why "Pleasantville" is more relevant today than ever, as did CALEB DESCHANEL with "Being There" and MICHAEL BUTLER and MICHAEL HAUSMAN with "Hair." CHARLES BURNETT and ROBERT TOWNSEND gave us a stirring discussion about "To Sleep With Anger," and BEN LEAR and SASHA ALPERT told us why a reform is needed in the juvenile detention system in "They Call Us Monsters."
RICK GOLDSMITH destigmatized mental illness with "Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw," while TANYA WEXLER and HUGH DANCY celebrated female sexuality and distinguished it from a mental disorder in "Hysteria," as did "The Handmaiden." IRWIN AND CHARLES WINKLER brought in an element of romance, Cole Porter-style with "De-Lovely," and JIMMY AND DONNIE DEMERS tugged at our heartstrings with a rendition of "Every Time We Say Goodbye." SHEILA O' MALLEY took us on a short trip down memory lane with "July and Half of August," while the ALLOY ORCHESTRA wowed us with their orchestral performance accompanying the silent film "Varieté'." Was this the best Ebertfest in 19 years? Or was it just that the EBERT FELLOWS said it was as transformative an experience as any they have had. You had to be there. And you can be for our 20th Anniversary coming up April 18-22, 2018, in Champaign, Illinois at the Virginia Theater.
The following table of contents features our full coverage of Ebertfest 2017 at RogerEbert.com, as well as the festival coverage from The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois. Also make sure to check out Gio Crisafulli and Melissa Batista's short film about Ebertfest 2016.
Ebert Fellows at Ebertfest 2017 by Chaz Ebert
Ebertfest 2017, Day 2: No Transition Without Representation by Matt Fagerholm
Ebertfest 2017, Day 3: A Special Short, The World's Greatest Actress and More by Peter Sobczynski
Ebertfest 2017, Day 4: Being Human is Hard by Sam Fragoso
Ebertfest 2015, Day 5: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Matt Fagerholm
Video: 35mm at Ebertfest 2017 by The Editors
The scoop on Ebertfest by Melissa Merli
Ebertfest never rests: A guide to the 2017 event’s films by Melissa Merli
Up Close and Personal with Norman Lear by Melissa Merli
Townsend says ISU naysayer was ‘catalyst for my destiny’ by Melissa Merli
Ebertfest director ready to let ‘Hair’ down in C-U by Marcus Jackson
Ebertfest appearance ‘a big personal first’ for ‘Hysteria’ director by Melissa Merli
Dancy on "Hysteria" and More by Melissa Merli
Audio: Penny for Your Thoughts featuring Chaz Ebert and Nate Kohn
Lining up at 7:30 a.m. for a 1 p.m. film? That’s ‘the power of Ebert’ by Marcus Jackson
TV icon’s filmmaker son impressed by audience by Marcus Jackson
Television titan Norman Lear wows audience by Melissa Merli
Video of singer leads to invite to open, close Ebertfest by Melissa Merli
19th Ebertfest receives a lovely send-off by Melissa Merli
Getty Images photos courtesy of Tim Hiatt.