Article du C-U: Ebertfest ’01, pt.1

“Not About Ebertfest 2011 … Yet”
Remembering Movies and Other Nonesuch
from the 2001 Overlooked Film Festival

by Jason Pankoke


We’ll admit it, friends. C-U Blogfidential has never been able to sustain a reliable “Ebertfest” beat. We’ve set up opportunities over the years for journalists to submit unique CUBlog discussion about Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, returning for its 13th annual outing at the Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign, Illinois, but with little to show for it. Anthony Zoubek provided our only comprehensive piece a few years ago – during which he dissected the Ebertfest mystique as well as presentations of HAMLET, MISHIMA, HULK, and THE CELL – yet even then, personal matters prevented him from properly closing out the series.

We honestly wonder how superfluous a CUBlog blow-by-blow of Ebertfest would be at this point. You can see from this News-Gazette post that the UIUC College of Media sponsored event has no shortage of Roger Ebert anointed bloggers and writers “embedded” in the Virginia audience, ready to provide instant critique/promotion on top of the wordage generated by the N-G and Chicago Sun-Times. As well, our own springtime activities have proliferated to a point where we’re occupied right up through Opening Night, so we have to pick and choose what to spend time on for readers’ Web consumption along with our non-Web responsibilities.

Similar to last year, 2011 zapped us repeatedly like “Chambanah the Three-Headed Filmmonster,” represented by our involvement in the second New Art Film Festival, C-U Confidential #5, and an end-of-April choice between presence at Ebertfest and/or the Midwest Zine Fest tomorrow at Urbana’s Independent Media Center and/or concurrent local events. The multiplicity is a gift; time management has been our Achilles’ heel.

Ebertfest is a vital force in the movie culture of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond. Therefore, CUBlog should give it due attention even though we consider it a part of the whole and not the annual cinema pinnacle most Ebertfest attendees probably think it is. Soon you will see where our hearts have been leading us, considering how much both CUBlog/CUZine and MICRO-FILM take pains to champion the little guy or gal, although it should not discount the efforts by Ebert himself to champion a select few little gals and guys through his festival.

At the conclusion of this series we’ll come back to Ebertfest 2011, but we hope you will enjoy the ensuing “reprint” of your humble editor’s stab at describing his Ebertfest experience during the third occurrence on April 25-29, 2001. While some prose is colored with the greenness of a much younger writer than the one who drafts nearly everything appearing on CUBlog today, the report reflects cannily how unpredictable this week can be. “Unlike most other people who live in C-U,” wrote a 30-year-old Mr. JaPan, “I inhabit what might be termed a parallel film universe.” Certainly, the claim holds true a decade later.

All About Ebertfest 2001” was originally written for Mike White and his superlative movie magazine Cashiers du Cinemart, in issue 13 of which he ran a lean and mean edit in 2002.

[Updated 5/2/11, 12:45 a.m. CST]

:: Part 2 ::


Article © 2011 Jason Pankoke

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

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