Champaign is a quaint city. It’s got small-town charm speckled with urban appeal. More importantly, however, it’s Roger’s home town. And that is what made those five days extraordinary. Because his spirit was so present during our time there. His voice echoed through the auditorium of the Virginia Theater, his faint laughter whispered through the booths at Shake Shack, and his infectious smile spread like a wildfire in remembrance of his name.
Ebertfest celebrates the life of America's favorite film critic, critics now, filmmakers, and above all, film lovers. It is a celebration of all the things we love about cinema. It is a festival for all of those who smile at the smell of fresh popcorn and Good n’ Plenty, for those who love classic cinema house marquees still changed daily by hand, for those who blush at the sight of those blood-rich velvet curtains, and for those who love the sound of the film reel clicking behind them. Above all, it is a celebration of damn good motion pictures. Ebertfest is all of the things we love separately about our cinema experiences in one.
In a theater filled with 1,100 film lovers, we sat and experienced together our most personal reactions to this year’s selection. We sat among directors in their most vulnerable states: bringing their hard work to us. Guillermo del Toro’s speech moved us all to tears, as he expressed how the Ebertfest audience healed his experience of putting forth Crimson Peak, a passion project that he poured all of his heart and soul into for eight years, but was unfortunately not as well received as his earlier work. The standing ovation seemed to last several minutes. "The real award is the audience, " he said. We are so grateful that we were able to bring this gratification to him as he brought to us.
Enjoy this video that was put together by my partner, Giò, which can also be found on our website: ZioCiccio
Thanks for watching!