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Ebertfest Announces Kathryn Bostic and the Opening and Closing Night Films for 2020 Festival

The 22nd Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (Ebertfest), co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert, announced three films for its upcoming April 15-18 event at the Virginia Theater. Ebertfest is a joint project of Chaz Ebert and the College of Media at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, the hometown of the late film critic, Roger Ebert. Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club Encore” will open this year’s festival and The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary” will close it. Following the opening night film will be a live performance by acclaimed composer Kathryn Bostic. Mrs. Ebert also announced that due to popular demand of the Ebertfest audience, an Alfred Hitchcock film will be shown. The rest of the films and guests for the festival will be revealed soon. But the theme for the 2020 edition of the festival is "Transformations."

In the lavish, 1930s-era drama known as “The Cotton Club Encore,” Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club becomes a hotbed of passion and violence as the lives and loves of entertainers and gangsters collide. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and featuring a cast that includes Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane and Lonette McKee, “The Cotton Club Encore” includes never-before-seen scenes and musical sequences that deepen and enrich the storylines in this remastered and beautifully restored version of “The Cotton Club.” Screenwriter William Kennedy will be in attendance to discuss the film.  

Following the screening, award winning composer and artist Kathryn Bostic will perform live on stage at the Virginia Theatre. Ms. Bostic is a multi-hyphenate composer, pianist, vocalist and music producer for film, TV and live theater. She is the first African-American female score composer to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has written the scores for such films as Ava Duvernay’s “Middle of Nowhere,” Justin Simien’s “Dear White People,” Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” and Chinonye Chukwu's "Clemency."

“I am especially pleased to introduce Kathryn Bostic to the Ebertfest Family,” said Chaz Ebert. “Last year we showed ‘Amazing Grace’ about Aretha Franklin followed by an uplifting gospel choir from the community. This year, following Francis Ford Coppola's director's cut of 'The Cotton Club Encore,' the multi-talented Ms. Bostic will wow us with torch songs accompanied by a hot jazz trio from the community. Ebertfest is all about love, and community, and tearing the roof off the house with soulful sounds.” 

Cameron Diaz in Peter & Bobby Farrelly's "There's Something About Mary."

In “There’s Something About Mary,” the Farrelly Brothers set this romantic comedy in their home state of Rhode Island. In 1985, when teen-nerd Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) challenges a high-schooler who's bullying Warren Jenson (W. Earl Brown), his concern prompts Warren's sister, the dazzling Mary Jenson (Cameron Diaz) to choose Ted as her senior prom date, a fact Ted's pals find hard to believe. However, on prom night, Ted endures an embarrassing accident, preventing his much-desired date from happening. Living in Providence and waxing nostalgic 13 years later, Ted hires Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to locate Mary, and the creepy private investigator finds her in Miami, where she lives with her roommate Magda (Lin Shaye). Will Ted finally be able to win the heart of his dream girl?

Co-director Bobby Farrelly and screenwriter John Strauss will participate in a post-screening Q&A immediately following the screening.

Alfred Hitchcock continues to command the attention of film lovers everywhere, and Ebertfest conducted an audience survey to ask which films they wanted to see. The overwhelming choice was "An Alfred Hitchcock Film." Coming in second was "Harold and Maude." Rounding out the top five were "The Big Chill," "Fargo," and "Good Fellas." 

The 22nd Anniversary of Ebertfest will be held April 15-18, 2019 at the Virginia Theatre, the restored movie palace in Champaign, Illinois with related talks and panel discussions to be held at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Passes are now available for purchase and cost $150, plus processing. Four passes purchased together are $510 instead of $600, or 15 percent off. Also available are a small number of U. of I. student passes priced at $100 each. They can be purchased through the festival website, the theater website or the theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063. Updates will be posted on the festival website. Tickets for individual movies will be available April 1st. 

Those interested in being a festival sponsor should contact Andy Hall, the festival's project coordinator, at

For additional information, please visit

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