25 years later, it’s ‘Ebertfest’ ‘24


One would like to wax philosophic about the concentrated happenings of the year 1999, in which the populace of Champaign-Urbana was treated to a key avalanche of film developments brought on by our friends and neighbors as well as those with long-standing ties to our fair Twin Cities, but we’ll have to save those “remember when” ruminations for a later article. Right now, we’d like to pay our respects to the highest-profile example of cinema culture that emerged locally before the start of the new millennium, for it returns this week with all the bells and whistles that should greet an institution when reaching its 25th anniversary.

The Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign will host the silver jubilee edition of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, presented by the College of Media at the University of Illinois and Chaz Ebert, beginning later tonight, Wednesday, April 17, with a screening of Bob Fosse’s STAR 80 and its own stars, Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts, in attendance. The entire schedule for 2024, including the newer Ebert Symposium organized in tandem with the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies at UIUC, is shared with you below. Individual show tickets and festival passes are still available through the Virginia’s box office during business hours at (217) 356-9063 as well as on their website, while detailed information about Ebertfest” events can be found here.

Celebrate the milestone with the festival community on Park Avenue between now and Saturday, April 20, and be sure to spread the word on the films that affect you the most; boutique presentations are rare these days in the C-U and your curiosity and patronage matter.


2024 Chaz and Roger Ebert Symposium schedule

Tuesday, April 16
@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, UIUC, Urbana, IL
7:00 p.m. “Representations and Their Critics (part 1)”

Wednesday, April 19
@ Starlight Room, Seibel Center for Design, UIUC, Champaign, IL
9:30 a.m. “Representations and Their Critics (part 2)”



‘Ebertfest’ schedule
@ The Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, IL

Wednesday, April 17
6:30 p.m. STAR 80 (1983, 103 min., Dir. Bob Fosse)

Thursday, April 18
9:30 a.m. “Little Indian Girl Collective” panel w/Gingger Shankar, Tara Houska (free admission)
11:00 a.m. CONDUCTING LIFE (2022, 31 min., Dir. Diane Moore) and THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: RICHARD HUNT’S MONUMENT TO IDA B. WELLS (2024, 60 min., Dir. Rana Segal)
3:00 p.m. STONY ISLAND (1978, 95 min., Dir. Andrew Davis)
8:00 p.m. THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE (2023, 98 min., İlker Çatak)

Friday, April 19
9:00 a.m. COOKIE’S FORTUNE (1999, 118 min., Dir. Robert Altman)
1:30 p.m. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004, 108 min., Dir. Michel Gondry)
4:30 p.m. LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING (2023, 98 min., Dir. Lisa Cortés)
9:30 p.m. THE BEST MAN (1999, 121 min., Dir. Malcolm D. Lee)

Saturday, April 20
9:30 a.m. BLACKMAIL (1929, 85 min., Dir. Alfred Hitchcock) Accompanied by the Anvil Orchestra
1:00 p.m. OMOIYARI: A SONG FILM BY KISHI BASHI (2023, 74 min., Dir. Kaoru Ishibashi)
4:00 p.m. ALBANY ROAD (2024, 120 min., Dir. Christine Swanson)
8:30 p.m. MAN ON THE MOON (1999, 119 min., Dir. Milos Forman)

The Virginia Theatre, which first opened in December 1921, is directed by Steven Bentz and operated by the Champaign Park District.

~ Jason Pankoke

Publicity still from THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE is courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. | Publicity still from OMOIYARI is courtesy IMDb.com. | Poster artwork from THE LIGHT OF TRUTH is courtesy AMonumentForIdaBFilm.com.


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