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Ebertfest 2018 Guests: Critical Mass

Roger was a film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times for almost 46 years. So it stands to reason that film critics would be an important element at Ebertfest. For the 20th anniversary, I have invited what I am calling a Critical Mass, a large number of film critics, not only from, but from other newspapers, websites and academic institutions as well. The great film historian David Bordwell sends his regrets that he is not able to make it, but here, in alphabetical order, is an amazing list of those who are. To read our list of scheduled filmmaker guests at Ebertfest 2018, click here for Part One and here for Part Two.—Chaz Ebert

Sarah Knight Adamson is in her tenth year as the weekly film critic for the internationally syndicated radio show Hollywood 360 Radio Network that includes over 90 Salem Radio News/Talk stations; WNYM-New York, KRLA-Los Angeles, and WWRC-Washington DC as an example. She’s a member of the Chicago and Broadcast Film Critics Associations, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and a voting member of the Critics Choice Awards in LA.

Her written film reviews, interviews and film articles have appeared in magazines, online and in the TribLocal newspaper, the Chicago Tribune subsidiary, of which she was the Regional Arts and Entertainment columnist. As a free-lance writer, she is very honored to have her articles appear on and to have had the pleasure of interviewing Ebert in 2011. Her website:

She’s served as a judge on film juries for the International 48 Hour Film Project, and the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, a panel member for the Chicago Public Library and taught a Film Criticism class in Chicago at Facets Cinémathèque for children and teens.

Sarah's Master’s Degree is in Reading from Northern Illinois University and serves as a member of the Executive Board for Variety the Children’s Charity of Illinois.

Nick Allen is an Assistant Editor and Film Critic at; this is his third time at Ebertfest. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association since 2010, he has previously written for the likes of, and 

Along with covering festivals like Sundance, Telluride, and SXSW, Nick has also served on juries at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Chicago International Children's Festival, and will be at juror for the upcoming 4th Annual Illinifest Student Film Festival. When not writing about film, Nick is going for long walks and practicing playing guitar behind his head.

Monica Castillo is a freelance writer and University of Southern California Annenberg graduate film critic fellow. Although she originally went to Boston University for biochemistry and molecular biology before landing in the sociology department, she went on to review films for The Boston Phoenix, WBUR, Dig Boston, The Boston Globe, and co-hosted the podcast “Cinema Fix.” After a stint as an Entertainment Reporter for International Business Times, she’s back to freelancing for, NPR, Village Voice, Tribeca Film, Paste Magazine, Remezcla, among others. She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Women Film Critics Circle, and served as a co-chair of the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Monica has traveled to a few film festivals, met a couple of living legends, and has some great stories about hitchhiking to red carpet premieres. She can usually be found online talking about the film she just watched.

Matt Fagerholm is an Assistant Editor at and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. He has been covering the film beat in Chicago since 2006, and has contributed to publications including Time Out Chicago, The A.V. Club, and Magill's Cinema Annual. 

He is a monthly guest on Vocalo radio's The Morning AMp program, and is also the founder of Indie Outlook, a blog and podcast featuring exclusive interviews with some of the most exciting voices in modern independent filmmaking.

Sam Fragoso is a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and NPR. He's currently the host of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso, a weekly podcast of long-form interviews with varying artists. 

He was formerly the EIC of Movie Mezzanine and the Creative Director at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. His debut short film, titled Interlude, will be released later this year.

Leonard Maltin is one of the most recognized and respected film critics of our time. He appears regularly on Reelz Channel and spent 30 years on the hit television show, Entertainment Tonight.

An established author, he is best known for his annual paperback reference, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.  In 2005, he introduced a companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide (now in its third edition), which focuses on movies made before 1965, going back to the silent era.

Leonard’s other books include The Best 151 Movies You’ve Never Seen, The Disney Films, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio’s Golden Age, The Great Movie Comedians, The Art of the Cinematographer, Selected Short Subjects and (as co-author) The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang.

Leonard has been teaching at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the last sixteen years. His popular class screens new films prior to their release, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. This direct access to top talent has proven to be invaluable in his students’ own filmmaking endeavors.

As an expert, pundit, and host, he is frequently seen on news programs and documentaries, and has enjoyed a long association with Turner Classic Movies. He also previews movies-on-demand on Comcast and appears regularly on Turner Classic Movies. For three years, he co-hosted the weekly syndicated movie review program Hot Ticket which was produced by Entertainment Tonight.

Leonard is a prolific freelance writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The London Times, Smithsonian, TV Guide, Esquire, The Village Voice and American Film. He has contributed to Oxford University Press’ American National Biography, and was the film critic for Playboy magazine for six years.

Additionally, Leonard frequently lectures on film and was a member of the faculty of New York City’s New School for Social Research for nine years. He served as Guest Curator at the Museum of Modern Art film department in New York on two separate occasions.

Leonard created, hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and appeared on Warner Home Video’s Night at the Movies features. He has written a number of television specials, including Fantasia: The Creation of a Disney Classic and has hosted, produced and written such video documentaries and compilations as The Making of The Quiet Man, The Making of High Noon, Cartoons for Big Kids, The Lost Stooges, Young Duke: The Making of a Movie Star, Cliffhangers: Adventures from the Thrill Factory and Cartoon Madness: The Fantastic Max Fleischer Cartoons.

In 2006 he was named by the Librarian of Congress to join the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He also has received awards and citations from the American Society of Cinematographers, Anthology Film Archives, The Society of Cinephiles, San Diego Comic-Con International, and the Telluride Film Festival. In 1997 he was made a voting member of the National Film Registry, which selects 25 landmark American films every year. Perhaps the greatest indication of his fame was his appearance in a now-classic episode of the animated series South Park.

He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies.

Recipient of the ICG Publicists Guild Press Award (honoring outstanding entertainment journalism), Scott “Movie” Mantz was the resident Film Critic and Emmy-nominated Film Segment Producer for “Access Hollywood” and “Access Hollywood Live” from 2000 to 2018. 

Currently, Mantz is the President and co-Founder of the LA Online Film Critics Society, and he is also a longtime member of the Producers Guild of America and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

In 2017 and 2018, Mantz hosted the Official Golden Globes Red Carpet Preshow for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and he moderated Facebook Live press events for blockbusters like “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Blade Runner 2049.”

All year long, Mantz is an in-demand moderator of panels, press conferences and post-screening Q&A sessions with filmmakers and acting talent (particularly during Awards Season), and he is the regular host of in-theater programming for Fathom Events.

During his tenure with “Access Hollywood,” Mantz orchestrated the show’s coverage of all things film, including red carpet premieres, press junkets, set visits and film festivals (Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, Telluride, and Cannes).

His on-camera movie reviews also appeared on various national platforms, including the monitors at gas-pumps, supermarkets, and taxicabs.

Over the years, Mantz has been a regular contributor of reviews and film commentary for “The TODAY Show,” Headline News, CNN, National Public Radio, KNBC-Channel 4, KTLA-Channel 5, KTTV-Channel 11 and the PBS movie review series “Just Seen It.”

Nell Minow reviews new releases in theaters and on DVD/streaming each week on radio stations across the country and at 

Her work has also appeared in a variety of outlets including, (the Motion Picture Association of America’s official site), Huffington Post, USA Today, and the website of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.  Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments.

Sheila O’Malley is a regular film critic for Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Film Comment, and the Criterion Collection. She wrote the script for two tribute reels for Academy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement recipients: Gena Rowlands (read by Angelina Jolie), and Anne V. Coates (read by Diane Lane). 

The short film she wrote, July and Half of August, played at Ebertfest in 2017.  She is a member of the New York Film Critics’ Circle.

Michael Phillips is the Chicago Tribune’s film critic. He’s the on-air host of “The Film Score,” a series of specials devoted to great movie music, syndicated nationally and heard on Classical WFMT-FM (98.7). Phillips is a regular guest on the long-running Chicago Public Radio podcast “Filmspotting” and a frequent contributor on “The Jam,” broadcast on WCIU-TV. From 2011-2017 he guest-hosted dozens of films on Turner Classic Movies. Before that, first opposite Richard Roeper and then A.O. Scott, he was co-host of 100 or so episodes of “At the Movies.” 

He has been the film critic for the Twin Cities weekly City Pages and Minnesota Public Radio, and has served as drama critic for the Dallas Times-Herald, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Los Angeles Times and, prior to being appointed film critic in 2006, the Chicago Tribune. Phillips advises the U of I College of Media Roger Ebert Fellowship, and will teach this summer at the National Critics Institute in Waterford, Conn. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, and their three children. He’s very happy to be back at Ebertfest.

Eric Pierson is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego. He also serves as director of the Interdisciplinary Film Studies program. His work on images and audiences has appeared Screening Noir, the Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiences, Documenting the Black Experience and Beyond Blaxploitation. Eric can also be seen in the documentary Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by The Door.

Eric holds two degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a BFA in Fine Arts and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Communications Research.

Claudia Puig is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a nationally recognized entertainment journalist. She is currently a critic for NPR’s Film Week and a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She was USA Today’s film critic for 18 years and host of USA Today’s video series The Screening Room. She was also a contributing film critic on KNBC-TV. Prior to that she was a staff writer for 11 years at the Los Angeles Times. Claudia was a speechwriter and diversity consultant for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

She is currently program director for the Mendocino Film Festival and FilmFest 919 in North Carolina and was consulting program director at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Claudia is also much in demand as a moderator for entertainment industry panels and Q&As, and has a consulting business specializing in film analysis and diversity issues. She is a native Spanish speaker and fluent in Italian, and studied at Cambridge University and at Universidad Ibero-Americana in Mexico City. Claudia has a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Communications from USC’s Annenberg School.

Carrie Rickey was born in Los Angeles during the widescreen era of movies and bagged a couple degrees from the University of California, San Diego in the years surfers traded longboards for short. She moved to New York just in time to read the headline Ford to City: Drop Dead and decamped as tabloids thus immortalized the passing of Andy Warhol: Platinum Prince of Pop Dies. During her New York years she wrote art criticism for Artforum and Art in America, film criticism for the Village Voice and Film Comment and was a columnist for Mademoiselle. 

For 25 years she was film critic of The Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviewed everything from Room With a View to Shame, interviewed celebrities from Lillian Gish to Will Smith, and reported on technological breakthroughs from the rise of video to the introduction of movies on-demand. She has taught at various institutions including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, is a popular speaker and has appeared frequently on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, MSNBC and CNN.

For several years in the 2000s, Richard Roeper was Roger Ebert’s co-host on “At the Movies,” which was eventually retitled “Ebert & Roeper.”

Roeper is a nationally syndicated columnist and film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and the author of eight books on subjects ranging from film to urban legends to gambling to his beloved Chicago White Sox.

He is the recipient of the National Headliner Award as the best columnist in the country, among other awards.

Roeper has hosted radio shows on WLS-AM, WLS-FM and WLUP-FM in Chicago, and he has been a host and contributor for Starz, Reelz, HDNET Movies and a number of Chicago TV stations. He is currently a regular on “The Roe Conn Show” on WGN-AM and “Windy City Live” on ABC-7.

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor-in-Chief of He is also the TV critic for New York Magazine  and and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

A Brooklyn-based writer and filmmaker, Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over 100 hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image and The L Magazine, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay “Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style” was later spun off into the New York Times bestsellers “The Wes Anderson Collection” (2013) and “The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hote”l (2015). Seitz's other books including “The Oliver Stone Experience” (September, 2016) and “TV” (The Book) (also September, 2016, co-written with Alan Sepinwall).  Seitz is the founder and original editor of “The House Next Door”, now a part of Slant, and the co-founder and original editor of “Press Play,” a blog of film and TV criticism and video essays.

Peter Sobczynski saw his first film, “Dumbo” along with the Road Runner cartoon “Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z,” at the age of 3 and has not stopped talking about them since. Currently, he serves as part of the crack writing team at and is a regular contributor to and “Magill’s Cinema Annual.” He gave “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” four stars and Dinesh d’Souza does not like him very much—two things that he is inordinately proud to have on his record. 

At last year’s Ebertfest, he got to briefly meet Isabelle Huppert and now considers his life pretty much complete. He can be reached at

Brian Tallerico has covered television, film, video games, Blu-ray/DVD, interviews, and entertainment news for almost two decades online, on radio, and in print.

Tallerico is the Editor of In addition, he is the Editor of Magill's Cinema Annual, a regular guest on radio stations throughout the Midwest, a TV writer for, a contributor at Rolling Stone, and freelancer for multiple outlets. He also serves as Vice President of the Chicago Film Critics Association and co-produces the Chicago Critics Film Festival every May. 

ReBecca Theodore-Vachon is the Film/TV Editor at 

She also runs her own blog and co-hosts "Cinema in Noir" podcast on Sundays BlogTalkRadio 6PM-7PM EST. You can find her on Twitter: @FilmFatale_NYC

Before becoming a critic and contributor at in 2013, Susan Wloszczyna worked at USA TODAY for almost 30 years, primarily as a film reviewer and senior entertainment writer. She also was an Oscar columnist at Women and Hollywood and a regular contributor at Thompson on Hollywood. 

She currently freelances for MPAA’s The Credits, The Washington Post and AARP The Magazine. She is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Washington Area Film Critics Association and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

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