Ebert now parked on Park Ave.

The Champaign Park District and the Virginia Theatre further cement their investment in all things Roger Ebert later today when a formal dedication is held to introduce Bloomington, Illinois, artist Rick Harney’s life-size bronze sculpture of the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic, now permanently installed out front of the venue that hosts Roger Ebert’s Film Festival. The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon, Thursday, July 3, as part of the Virginia’s “Ice Cream & Independence” Americana music concert and social event, according to The News-Gazette. Unlike its temporary display back in April during “Ebertfest,” the depiction of a thumbs-up Ebert sitting in the middle of three theater seats will rest on the northeast corner of the Virginia property, facing the intersection of Park Avenue and Randolph Street. Plaques noting Ebert as well as upper-level donors to the statue will also be unveiled.

Attending will be Harney, sculpture project coordinator Scott Anderson, and Chaz Ebert, who has been touring non-stop lately to promote the Ebert documentary LIFE ITSELF with its director, Steve James. As the world is wowed by his filmed life story at high-profile screenings and festivals, and distributor Magnolia Pictures prepares to release it commercially beginning tomorrow, Friday, July 4, the home front opportunities to watch LIFE ITSELF continue to multiply. In addition to the Art Theater Co-op’s run starting next Friday, July 11, the Virginia has booked its own run from Monday, July 28, to Thursday, August 1, as listed in their just-released 2014-2015 season schedule. No word yet as to whether other nearby theaters will play it, but – do we really have to vocalize this, dearest readers? – it would be best karma to spend your hard-earned dollars at our locally-owned cinemas to see this particular film.

We offer a word of caution to everyone, however, in advance of the seventeenth Ebertfest coming April 15-19, 2015, also confirmed by the Virginia announcement. Pankoke don’t selfie, or otherwise photograph, with $115,000 renditions of the recently deceased. Thanks.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Look for our Ebertfest 2014 review series to begin appearing on C-U Blogfidential next week! We’ll launch the set with Brian Paris’ impressions of LIFE ITSELF.

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