THUMBATHON: EBERT’S OVERLOOKED FILM FESTIVAL (part 7)

CRITIC DOCTOR’S FINAL EXAMINATION OF FESTIVAL ^ This year’s Ebertfest, a special event of the University of Illinois College of Communications, was clearly more successful than last year – both in attendance and entertainment value. The festival showed 14 screenings and drew about 19,000 people – according to festival reports. It was nice to see old friends again and to see Mr. Ebert himself. The man has a grueling schedule and yet he manages to pull through.
Midway through the festival, Ebert made his usual late night trip to Steak-n-Shake and returned back to the Illini Union only to fall on a newly waxed floor. He went to the hospital and found out he had two hairline fractures in his left shoulder. Ebert still returned to the festival the next day with a sling on his arm. I walked up to the Pulitzer Prize winning critic and jokingly commented, “You should have called the Critic Doctor!” Ebert replied, “Oh, yeah – the ole Doc. I should have called him.”
It was also nice to see George Walton again. He was in the boxing documentary “On The Ropes” which was presented last year and again this year at another theater. Walton was invited back with his wife Tyrene, who was in prison during last year’s viewing. I also got to meet some critics for the first time including Jeff Westhoff from Northwest Herald (nwherald.com). My Critic Doctor intern, Mike Hall and I had an interesting discussion with Mr. Westhoff on some movies – including “Frailty” (I will be writing a column on this one soon). I also got to meet James Berardinelli (reelviews.net) and his nice girlfriend. James is a true gentleman and he gave me the scoop on other good film festivals to attend. Once again I got to visit with Peter Sobczynski, a well-informed Chicago film critic. They all admire Mr. Ebert, too.
Roger Ebert has his own nationally syndicated movie review column, a TV show with co-host Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper and the Movies” – Buena Vista TV”) and now this year the “Virginia Theater’s” street, (Park Avenue), was named “Roger Ebert Honorary Boulevard.” I wonder – is that anywhere near a Critic Doctor Court? :-)
Roger and I disagreed on a few films this year, but we agreed on the majority presented – making my trip from Iowa a worthwhile jaunt. I do have a suggestion for next year (or sometime in the future) and I hope Mr. Ebert will seriously consider my recommendation. There is one movie that comes to mind that was TOTALLY IGNORED by the movie industry. A brilliant movie with superior acting. I’m talking about Jim Carrey’s “Man On The Moon.” If any movie deserves to be at this festival – this is the one (Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 stars). If you bring this movie to the “Virginia Theater” in the future, Roger, I will personally buy you and your wife a Steak-n-Shake. So chew on that idea for awhile.
“Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival” is simply getting better. I’ll be back.
Check out FILMTHREAT.com’s FILM FESTIVAL ARCHIVES for more fest news!




Posted on May 5, 2002 in Festivals by
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