I Am So Very Proud To Be Hosting Our 21st edition of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, a.k.a. Ebertfest, scheduled to run from Wednesday, April 10th, through Saturday, April 13th, in Champaign, Illinois. Making this annual celebration of cinema a reality would be next to impossible without the contributions of our festival director, Dr. Nate Kohn, and our sponsoring partner, the University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign. We look forward to seeing new faces and longtime festival-goers alike in the gorgeous Virginia Theatre, sharing in the universal power of visual storytelling.
Ebertfest 2019 will celebrate the on-air partnership my husband Roger shared with his good friend, Chicago Sun-Times columnist-turned-head critic Richard Roeper, in their television series “Ebert & Roeper.” Richard, along with myself and Nate, have selected two soon-to-be-announced films for this year’s festival. And I promise you they will be a pleasure to watch. Afterwards, Richard will take to the stage where we will put him in the hot seat as the interviewee to share behind-the-scenes escapades about his partnership with Roger. A montage of clips from their memorable reviews will also be featured. Roger would be thrilled that we are finally celebrating Richard at Ebertfest.
In addition to the Ebert & Roeper show, Richard has been an on-air contributor to Windy City Live, the Fox in the Morning television show, STARZ Inside monthly documentary series, and a radio host on WLS Am 890, WLUP-FM, WLS-FM, and WMVP-AM. His work has won him Emmys and a National Headliner Award as the top newspaper columnist; as well as Best Columnist awards by the Associated Press. His columns have been syndicated by the New York Times in papers across the country, and other articles have appeared in Esquire, Spy, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, Playboy and Maxim. He has published seven books on various topics from movies to urban legends, to conspiracy theories to the Chicago White Sox as well as a book on gambling called, “Bet The House.” He was a frequent guess on the Tonight Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Regis and Kelly and many other television shows, including an episode of “Top Chef” and “Entourage.”
This year, our festival will be dedicated to the memory of another long-time friend and regular Ebertfest attendee, Scott Wilson, who passed away in October, 2018. Scott attended the very first Ebertfest in 1999 when we featured his performance in Chip Rosenbloom’s 1997 family drama, “Shiloh.” The actor returned in subsequent years for screenings of Philip Kaufman’s Oscar-winning “The Right Stuff,” Joey Lauren Adams’ “Come Early Morning” and Phil Morrison’s “Junebug” (featuring Amy Adams in her dynamic breakout role), making him among the festival’s most frequent guests.
Scott began his film career by appearing in two immortal classics, beginning with Norman Jewison’s “In the Heat of the Night” in 1967, followed by Richard Brooks’ “In Cold Blood.” Since then, he acted in over 50 films, including “The Great Gatsby,” “Dead Man Walking,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Monster” and William Peter Blatty’s “The Ninth Configuration,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2007, Scott received the Ralph Morgan Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and received new generations of fans with his role as Hershel Greene in the popular television series “The Walking Dead.”
To honor Scott’s remarkable legacy, one of our Ebertfest selections this year will be Krzysztof Zanussi’s “A Year of the Quiet Sun,” which won the Golden Lion at the 1984 Venice Film Festival. Scott portrays an American soldier who falls for a Polish refugee (Maja Komorowska) in the aftermath of WWII. In his four-star review, Roger praised Scott’s “great” performance while noting that the movie “tells a love story without resorting to the devices of cheap romance.” He also wrote that the film “is poetic in the way it visualizes the hope of the two lovers while reflecting the poignancy of their fates.” We are pleased to be welcoming Maja Komorowska from Poland as our guest for the screening. She and Scott’s wife, Heavenly Wilson, will appear onstage after the film for a celebration of Scott’s life.
Festival Passes are available for $150, plus processing. Festival-goers will receive a discount when they purchase a four-pack priced at $510 instead of $600, or 15 percent off. Additionally, a small number of U. of I. student passes will be made available priced at $100 each. All passes can be purchased through www.ebertfest.com, www.thevirginia.org or at the Virginia Theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063.
Tickets for individual movies will be available April 1.