Film News: Ebertfest 2012 Lineup Announced

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CHICAGO – As a graduate of the University of Illinois, I can tell you there is one time of the year that is very close to my heart, and many others in the Champaign-Urbana community. That is the last weekend of April every year which brings us Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (aka Ebertfest). And tonight, the lineup for the 14th Annual Ebertfest was announced and includes some very exciting guests.

Returning to the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL, Ebertfest 2012 will feature 14 different films with special guests and panel discussions after each screening. The past few years have featured Ang Lee, Charlie Kaufman, Bill Nighy, Tim Blake Nelson, Tilda Swinton, and many more, and this year features some exciting guests as well, including Patton Oswalt, Michael Shannon, and Jacob Wysocki.

Oswalt will be appearing at the festival for his film “Big Fan,” and he will also be on hand to introduce and discuss the 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets.” Shannon will partake in a panel discussion for his film “Take Shelter” and will be joined by the film’s director, Jeff Nichols. Wysocki will attend the festival along with his film “Terri,” which he stars in along with John C. Reilly. Azazel Jacobs, the director of “Terri,” will also be at the film festival.

Created by legendary film critic and film fan Roger Ebert, a native of Urbana and University of Illinois Alum, Ebertfest originally started as the Overlooked Film Festival. Designed as a film fest where Ebert showcases films he found to be underrated or overlooked, the name eventually changed to Ebertfest due to the name commonly being used by attendees. However, the festival is still designed the same. Ebert selects a series of movies that he enjoys a great deal and offers a stage where these films can be seen before a film loving audience.

When I attended the festival last year, Terry Donahue, a member of the Alloy Orchestra (a three piece ensemble that creates live music played over silent films), summed up Ebertfest beautifully: “There are two kinds of festivals: the business festival and the film-lovers festival. This is the epitome of the film-lovers festival,” Donahue said. “It’s here because (Ebert) loves these films and he thinks they need another shot to be seen.”

Actress Tilda Swinton added to the love of the festival when she discussed how enjoyable it was to attend during her panel discussion last year: “This festival is your festival,” Swinton said, speaking directly towards Ebert. “It is a festival for film fans. A lot of you are academics, and a lot of you are incredible critics, and a lot of you are incredible filmmakers, and a lot of you are none of those things; but all of us are film fans.”

If you haven’t had the chance to experience Ebertfest yourself, you can buy a festival pass at If you miss the chance to get a pass, rush seating for all of the showings from April 24 to April 29 are available on the day of the showing. For the entire lineup of Ebertfest 2012, see below:

The 14th Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival

Tuesday April 24
7:30pm - Kind Hearts and Coronets, introduced and discussed by Patton Oswalt (Foellinger Auditorium)

Wednesday April 25

10:00 pm - THE TRUTH ABOUT BEAUTY AND BLOGS (13 min short) Guest: Actor and director Kelechi Ezie

10:15 pm - PHUNNY BUSINESS. Guests: Raymond Lambert, subject and producer; John Davies.

Thursday April 26
1:00 pm - BIG FAN (Patton Oswalt in person)

4:00 pm - KINYARWANDA. In person: Alrick Brown (Writer/Director/ Producer), Cassandra Freeman (Actor), Darren Dean (Producer), Tommy Oliver (Producer), Deatra Harris (Producer)

8:30 pm - TERRI (Guests: Azazel Jacobs, director and Jacob Wysocki, actor)

Friday April 27
1:00 pm - ON BORROWED TIME (In person: subject Paul Cox)

4:00 pm - WILD AND WEIRD (Silent shorts; ALLOY ORCHESTRA performing live.)

8:30 pm - A SEPARATION.

Saturday April 28
1:00 pm - HIGHER GROUND (In person: screen writer Carolyn S. Briggs)

4:00 PM - PATANG. (In person: Prashant Bhargava, director; Jaideep Punjabi, producer; Vijay Bhargava; lead actors Seema Biswas and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

8:30 PM - TAKE SHELTER (In person: Jeff Nichols, director; Michael Shannon, star.)

Sunday April 29
Noon: CITIZEN KANE, with commentary track by Roger Ebert. (Guest: David Bordwell) staff writer Tim Martens

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