Photo courtesy of Ebertfest website

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen speaks during the 21st Ebertfest on April 10, 2019. Ebertfest will be back for its 22nd year after being canceled in 2020.

The 2022 Roger Ebert Film Festival, known as Ebertfest, begins Wednesday at the Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign, where it will include a slate of film screenings and special guest appearances.

The 22nd annual festival will mark the return of the event after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ebertfest was founded in 1999 by the late film critic and University of Illinois alumnus Roger Ebert and is continued by his wife and co-founder, Chaz Ebert.

While many selections are chosen from the films Roger has reviewed, Chaz and festival director Nate Kohn pick the new films screened at each festival. The festival team then chooses the final selection.

The University’s Media College also contributes to the event, including the university campus and students.

Ebertfest’s mission is to recognize films that have not garnered proper attention or recognition from critics and/or audiences. It’s a way for audiences to see movies otherwise overlooked by mainstream media.

The Virginia Theater hosts the event each year, where its 35mm, 70mm and digital screening showcases the festival’s films. The theater seats 1,463 and has been operated by the Champaign Park District since 2000.

This year’s festival will run from April 20-23. Thirteen films will be screened, including popular films released last year such as “Summer of Soul”, “Nightmare Alley” and “Passing”.

Guests include, but are not limited to, directors Guillermo Del Toro and Ramin Bahrani; co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics Michael Barker; Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips; and actress Thora Birch.

The late comedian Gilbert Gottfried was due to appear as a guest at this year’s Ebertfest but will not be attending due to his recent death.

On Wednesday night, the festival kicks off with “Summer of Soul” by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson at 7 p.m. with musical guests Ther’Up.Y, Tammy McCann and Clem Snide.

Thursday begins with a morning screening of “The Phantom of the Open” and is followed by “The 39 Steps”, “Gilbert” and “French Exit”.

“Passing” begins Friday’s schedule, followed by “Golden Arm,” “The White Tiger” and “Ghost World.”

Saturday, the closing day of the festival, will feature ‘Siren of the Tropics’, ‘Krisha’ and ‘Soy Cubana’, which will be followed by a performance by a Latin jazz band featuring university students.

The last film shown at Ebertfest on Saturday evening will be the black and white cinematic version of Del Toro’s award-winning film “Nightmare Alley”, which is currently sold out.

After each of these projections, Ebertfest has a line-up of directors, producers, actors, writers, musicians and critics all scheduled as special guests to take part in Q&A sessions.

Tickets for Ebertfest are on sale now for individual screenings, and festival passes can be purchased at the Virginia Theater box office by calling 217-356-9063.

Festival representatives were not available for comment.

[email protected]

About The Author

Related Posts