Article du C-U: Ebertfest ’01, pt.7

“Not Much Ado About Ebertfest 2011”
Coming to Terms During the
2011 Roger Ebert’s Film Festival

by Jason Pankoke


C-U Blogfidential is not designed to be a “film appreciation” Web site, even though such editorial would hardly be out of place here. Rather, our self-appointed task is to aggregate film activity as it applies to MICRO-FILM Country and frame it in terms of cinema history and industry as a whole, along with encouraging such things to flourish in our backyard now and forevermore. We give props and cheers to local efforts while figuring out what it all means so everyone can understand a little better why we do what we do.

That said, it’s pretty apparent we don’t need to spend extensive time and energy in discussing Roger Ebert’s Film Festival on CUBlog, other than in basic terms and for the record, because everyone else seems to be doing it already. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, a small legion of loyal Roger Ebert colleagues and correspondents has been hand-picked to provide the play-by-play for the Internet and print masses. “Ebertfest” sells itself now regardless of the press it receives; fans pack the Virginia Theater religiously every April for the love of this “film lovers’ event” if not just Ebert himself, so bully for them.

Amidst all this hoopla and despite producing C-U Confidential digest for Ebertfest attendees to tuck in their swag bags, CUBlog finds itself mostly sequestered to the sidelines looking in – or up at the Virginia’s silver screen – as the fun times are otherwise shared between everyone else. We’re grateful to be given clearance every year to offer CUZine and MICRO-FILM on site, but we’ve maintained for too long the position of “local flavor” instead of “active participant.” We’re bummed about the UI College of Media’s seeming indifference to our presence but unapologetic for not courting their attention with sponsorship dollars. We simply don’t have them.

To drown our mild malaise, we did the best thing we possibly could have to seek clarity during Ebertfest 2011 – we mostly stayed in a galaxy far, far away from Park Street, one that we like to call Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

There is a healthy C-U movie/arts life outside of Ebertfest, otherwise CUBlog would have no reason to exist. In fact, there is a healthy C-U movie/arts life during Ebertfest that we’re guilty of slighting due to Ebertfest, CUBlog/CUZine, and other responsibilities. The tawdriest non-secret is, because a healthy C-U movie/arts life does take place during Ebertfest, we think CUBlog might function just fine by experiencing that satellite world at the end of every April without feeling obligated to step foot in the Virginia except for shows that really excite us.

And you know what, friends? We came away quite satisfied with our Ebertfest 2011 respite thanks to: one student science fiction film, nine student films exploring feminism, one indie doc about love, one Midnite Movie with rude accompaniment, one sweet little musical based on a movie, one bawdy Restoration era farce, one indie media showcase with local filmmakers’ panel, one Ebertfest selection not seen at the Virginia, one Ebertfest filmmaker elbow-rub, and the second of two theatrical screenings of the same filmmaker’s big-studio experimental release, coming nearly a decade after the first and both immediately after your humble editor lost his day job.

You read that correctly, dearest readers. Mr. JaPan’s employment status went “kaput” during Ebertfest. Hrmph. Anyway…

We don’t hate Ebertfest one bit. Maybe a breather was simply necessary this year. Maybe we also needed to find a different springtime calling in the C-U and not worry about whether to report right alongside the herd. You’ll be able to read about our “Alternative Ebertfest Break” in the coming weeks and let us know if we’re on the right track in communicating what else goes on in Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond at this time of year.

In all sincerity, we hope everyone who attended Ebertfest 2011 enjoyed themselves in that “thumbs up” sort of way and refrains from equating this post to a middle finger. We’d like to believe we aim a lot higher than that and plan to prove it to you shortly.

~ Jason Pankoke

:: Part 6 ::


Article © 2011 Jason Pankoke. Used with permission.

Cover Graphic: © Roger Ebert’s Film Festival/Daily Illini

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