Champaign – The 22nd Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as “Ebertfest,” has announced its full slate of films for the April 20-23 event. The list announced today includes an appearance by comedian Gilbert Gottfried to discuss his film “Gilbert”; another movie that introduces us to women arm-wrestlers; and an appearance by a pair of filmmakers to discuss the topic of identity.
Individual tickets to all of the films go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 10:00 A.M., at the Virginia Theatre Box Office, online at thevirginia.org, or charge by phone at 217-356-9063.
The festival also announced the itinerary for opening night.
With Oscar-winning directors, comedians and musicians, augmented by many independent movie gems, this year’s lineup takes the festival back to the roots established by late co-founder Roger Ebert, an Urbana native and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alumnus who gained a wide following as a film critic until his death in 2013.
“We will present films that will make you laugh, and make you cry, and some filled with so much music you will want to dance,” Chaz Ebert said. “But, most of all, we will enjoy being back together, in person, to celebrate cinema in a joyous way on the big screen as a community.”
The festival had previously announced Oscar-winning or nominated films and directors like Guillermo del Toro (“Nightmare Alley” in black and white), Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger”), Terry Zwigoff (“Ghost World”), Azazel Jacobs (“French Exit”) and the late Alfred Hitchcock (“The 39 Steps”). Ebertfest is adding other films that did not get the audiences they deserved because the theaters were closed during the pandemic.
“Some of the small theaters that showed independent and art movies, including the Art Theater in Champaign, which was one of Roger’s favorite cinemas, will never open again,” Chaz Ebert said. “So, we have carefully curated a selection of independent films, especially chosen for our Ebertfest family of movie lovers, to come to our big screen at the beautifully renovated movie palace, the Virginia Theater.”
The “overlooked” films of this year’s Ebertfest include Gottfried’s appearance to discuss his film, which gives an intimate look behind the scenes in the life of a comedian. The festival also will welcome Krisha Fairchild to discuss her movie “Krisha,” which is about life, alcoholism and recovery, but mostly about family. “Golden Arm” is a movie that brings a slice of life, both comic and dramatic, from a world not many know about – women arm wrestlers. The festival will award many of “Golden Arms” cast and crew the coveted Golden Thumb. Ebertfest will also discuss the nature of identity with Jason Delane Lee and Yvonne Huff Lee after the paired showing of their short film “Lifeline” and a second film that they executive-produced, the BAFTA-nominated and Spirit Awards-winning film “Passing,” directed by Rebecca Hall.
The opening night fare will include diverse voices starting with alt-country artist Clem Snide performing the song “Roger Ebert.” Also slated for April 20 is the Oscar-winning documentary “Summer of Soul,” followed by acclaimed jazz and torch singer Tammy McCann performing with Champaign’s own Aplustrodamus and Ther’Up.Y (pronounced “Therapy”). The band’s leader emphasizes the therapeutic nature music has for us, especially in these perilous times.
Other scheduled musically related films and events include “Soy Cubana,” by Jeremy and Robin Ungar, about the “Vocal Vidas” – Cuban singers considered national treasures.
Renee Baker and her 10-piece orchestra will be back by popular demand to accompany and interpret the silent film “Siren of the Tropics.” The film stars the late Josephine Baker, who in 2021 made history, 46 years after her death, by becoming the first American – and the first Black woman – inducted into the Pantheon in Paris, which is a monument reserved for French national heroes. Born in St. Louis, Baker became a French citizen in 1937. She is buried in Monaco. Previous inductees include Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. Her induction ceremony was presided over by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Ebertfest has taken extra precautions, going beyond local measures to make audiences feel comfortable. The festival is introducing reserved ticketing for the first time to reduce capacity and provide ample spacing between groups. And the Virginia Theatre has installed a new state-of-the-art ventilation system.
The festival will announce additional filmmaker guests in the coming weeks.
Ebertfest will be held at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign, with related talks and panel discussions at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Passes are available for $200, including all processing fees. Four passes purchased together are $700. Also available are a small number of University of Illinois student passes priced at $150 each. Individual movie tickets will be available April 1 at $20 for the general public or $15 for University of Illinois students. Passes and tickets may be purchased through the festival website or at the Virginia Theatre box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063. Updates will be posted on the festival website. Depending on available seating, tickets for individual movies may be available April 1.
Roger Ebert’s Film Festival is a special event of Chaz Ebert and the College of Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. For additional information, visit http://www.ebertfest.com.
Fore more, visit https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/322560300.