April 1 was Roger Ebert's 41st anniversary as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times (no fooling) — and the occasion for declaring his imminent return to reviewing movies.
I am at last returning to the movie beat. After my current stay at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I’m looking forward to opening night of my annual film festival at the University of Illinois on April 23, and I will resume writing movie reviews shortly thereafter.
Are you as bored with my health as I am? I underwent a third surgery in January, this one in Houston, and once again there were complications. I am sorry to say that my ability to speak was not restored. That would require another surgery.
But I still have all my other abilities, including the love of viewing movies and writing about them. And at my side I have my angelic wife, Chaz.
The festival is shaping up well. Thanks to festival director Nate Kohn, the schedule, which is already released at ebertfest.com, includes appearances by filmmaker and U. of I. graduate Ang Lee; directors Paul Schrader, Sally Potter, Tom DiCillo, Bill Forsyth, Tarsem Singh, Jeff Nichols, Barry Avrich, Taggart Siegel, Eran Kolirin and Joseph Greco. We are also happy to welcome actors Joey Pantoliano, Aida Turturro, Christine Lahti; and the Alloy Orchestra.
Assisting in the onstage Q&A sessions will be my TV partner, Richard Roeper; my Chicago Tribune colleague, Michael Phillips; my longtime friends, Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss and his wife, Mary, a film expert; Sony Pictures Classics president Michael Barker; film scholars David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson; Professor Eric Pierson; RogerEbert.com editor Jim Emerson; Movie City News editor David Poland; film scholar Hannah Fisher; and U. of I. alum and Sports Illustrated’s Bill Nack.
The longest distance commute to the festival will be Farmer John Peterson, who lives in northern Illinois but will fly in from New Zealand.
I am still cancer-free, and not ready to think about more surgery at this time. I should be content with the abundance I have.
So that’s the latest. I have been so moved by the messages I’ve received from so many of you. Thank you. Now let’s go to the movies.