Streaming Ebertfest

While finishing my dissertation, I lived and taught in Chamapign, Illinois, and one of the coolest annual events there was Roger Ebert’s yearly festival, the “Overlooked Film Festival,” now known simply as Ebertfest. Few public figures have ever given their hometown such a cool gift: a weekend of old and new classic films projected in a genuine movie palace, the Virginia Theater, whose stage Ebert mentions once played host to performances ranging from the Marx Brothers, Donald O’conner, and even Houdini. Champaign’s Art Theater will also host “encore” screenings of many of the films. In addition to screening some fantastic movies, the festival attracts a number of the actors, screenwriters, and filmmakers for Q&A sessions that were always informative and engaging.

I’m too far away and too busy with end-of-semester work to make the trip up to Champaign this year, but the festival is doing us all a service by making those Q&A sessions available online through a Ustream channel. Although this practice has become much more common with festivals, Ebert has assembled a great line-up of filmmakers this year, so I think the videos with be worth your time (maybe I’ll play it in the background while I’m grading some freshman comp or film papers).

Ebert has a thorough discussion of this year’s lineup, so I won’t repeat that here, but some of the highlights include 45365, a film that has truly grown on me over the years, the Italian film, I Am Love, and a restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There are several others, including Lena Durham’s Tiny Furniture, that I’d love to see. If you’re in the neighborhood, check them out, and then stop off for a martini at Boltini’s on the way home.

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