This year, Susan Wloszczyna is spending some of her time at the 2015 Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival trying to get to know some of the people who made the journey to Champaign-Urbana this year.
Alice Adcock had a sublime grin on her face as she stood before the members of Thursday’s panel discussion on “EbertCenter@Illinois: Storytelling Meets Engineering.” Participants including Chaz Ebert and Jan Slater, dean of the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had touched on aspects of the tech revolution’s effects on entertainment as well as in the classroom.
The 84-year-old resident of Edwardsville, IL, spoke of her years as an educator primarily in St. Louis and how she was recruited to introduce computers into her grade-school classroom years ago. And how those students would go on to perform better academically than their peers in later years.
The film fan’s first visit to Ebertfest as part of a Road Scholar tour group has been both a learning curve but one that featured topics that struck very close to home.
The previous panel, “Challenging Stigma Through the Arts,” also struck home. “When I retired from teaching, I had a daughter who had suffered from a mental disorder. And we had almost lost hope, because she had lost everything. So the panel was just very touching to me. In 1994, when I retired from teaching, she came back. She had lost her husband, her children, her home. She had been a registered nurse. Nobody thought of a mental disorder as a chronic illness.”
Her experiences with her daughter led her to volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “She recovered a life for herself because of NAMI,” Adcock says. She heard about NAMI while seeking ways to her “and it’s made all the difference in my family. I volunteered for everything they offered and we grew the affiliate in St. Louis from a little mom-and-pop organization to a suite of offices.”
But after also helping the Edwardsville outpost of NAMI to similarly expand, she turned in her resignation last year. And that is where Ebertfest comes in. “It’s taken until two months ago. When I came across this Road Scholar trip, I thought, ‘I need to do something different.’ “
Although there is a film festival in St. Louis every year, “this is what I appreciate it,” referring to the panels here. “I like to listen to people who are deep in their field. And are trying to grow as they are talking about. I love being part of the beginning of technology over at that school district. And developing a tool for teachers to observe their children and listen to their children to recognize the power of this. It’s probably the biggest innovation since chalk and a board.”
As for the movies at the festival, she has vowed to see as many as she can. “I have about six of them on my list. Working with NAMI, I really haven’t gotten to the movies that much. But I will have to kind of pace myself.”