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Ebertfest 2017: Day Four, by Aaron Pinkston

27 Apr

I always have mixed emotions about Saturday at Ebertfest. It is the busiest day, with an extra matinee screening—and who would complain about more movies? But considering I’m already exhausted from the week, tired of eating garbage food for every meal and missing home, the end seems sweet. Thankfully, the festival will end with a bang for me, with two profile documentaries, a 90s fantasy well worth revisiting, and my first viewing of a Hal Ashby classic comedy.


Ebertfest 2017: Day Three, by Aaron Pinkston

26 Apr

Whereas Day Two of the 2017 Roger Ebert’s Film Festival highlighted its aims to showcase the overlooked and underappreciated, Day Three showed off its diverse interests.


Ebertfest 2017: Day Two, by Aaron Pinkston

21 Apr

When the Roger Ebert’s Film Festival was formed in 1999 it was specifically meant to shine a light on a number of films that the prolific film critic saw throughout his years that didn’t get the recognition he thought they deserved. The then-named “Overlooked Film Festival” used this thesis to span tiny indies like Henry Bromell’s Panic, internationally acclaimed but little seen at their release films like Songs from the Second Floor, and minor entries in big filmographies like Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You. Over the years, that specific aim has shifted a bit, but there is always room in the schedule for a few underappreciated and overlooked—the second day of the 19th Ebertfest is a great example of this as it starts with two perfect examples of the festival’s spirit.


Ebertfest 2017: Opening Night, by Aaron Pinkston

20 Apr

The 19th annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival is built on four key principles: empathy, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. Even if not as explicitly, this has always been the mission of the festival, as was true of its namesake. Each year in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the main campus of the University of Illinois, Ebert’s alma mater, film lovers flock to celebrate films and carry out the legacy of the greatest film critic. This is now my sixth straight year covering the festival and it has become a part of my life. I unfortunately never got to experience the festival with Roger as the key figure (by 2012 the effects of his cancer had taken his ability to speak, and with that, his role in leading the film introductions and Q&As), but I’ve seen it grow past the “Overlooked Film Festival” of its roots to championing Ebert’s spirit. Since he passed a few short weeks before the festival in 2013, Ebertfest has embodied the man’s legacy with love and through those four principles that he looked for in every film that he loved. This year’s slate is as interesting as any I’ve attended, a mix of classics ready for a reevaluation and contemporaries that carry on what Ebert looked for in a great film.