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Fourth Roger Ebert Film Festival to run April 24-28

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor
(217) 333-2894;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The opening night of the fourth annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival will feature a newly remastered 70mm print of "Patton," the 1970 Oscar-winner that opens with a famous monologue by George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton before a huge American flag.

Also on Ebert's list for this year’s festival April 24-28 in Champaign-Urbana and at the University of Illinois are films that focus on family, crime, psychological drama, race relations, coming of age and youthful passion rediscovered in old age. The free family matinee will be a visually stunning film for all ages, a fable about a young girl and her imaginary friend. Among the foreign films will be entries from Australia, Iran and Senegal.

In a unique double feature during the festival, a live orchestra will accompany the classic 1927 German silent film "Metropolis," to be followed by a 2001 Japanese animated film of the same name. A documentary about gospel music will be followed with a live performance by Chicago's Barrett Sisters, a group featured in the film.

In making his 14 selections for the festival, Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, looks for films he feels have been overlooked by critics, distributors, audiences (or some combination thereof), and therefore deserve a second look. Ebert co-hosts "Ebert & Roeper and the Movies," a weekly televised movie-review program, and is a 1964 UI journalism graduate and adjunct professor.

The films are screened in the 1,500-seat Virginia Theater, 203 W. Park St., Champaign, a movie palace built in the 1920s. This is the third year in which Ebert has taken advantage of the Virginia’s 70mm projection system, in previous years screening 70mm prints of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Oklahoma!"

The festival is a special event of the UI's College of Communications.

Filmmakers, actors and producers connected with the featured films are invited to the festival, and many appear on stage with Ebert for informal discussions after the screenings. The festival also includes four panel discussions held on the UI campus, one of them moderated by Ebert. The panelists include scholars and others connected with the film industry.

This year's schedule of films and guests, subject to change:

Wednesday, April 24
8 p.m. – "Patton" (United States, 1970), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, the festival’s 70mm opening night epic, with the George C. Scott performance as the successful, brilliant and controversial World War II U.S. general. Richard Vetter, developer of the Dimension 150, the optical system for 70mm photography and projection as used in the film, will be a guest.

Thursday, April 25
1 p.m. – "Hyenes" (Senegal, 1992), directed by Djibril Diop Mambety, a retelling of Friedrich Durrenmatt's 1956 play "The Visit," about a rich woman who returns to a village with old scores to settle.

4 p.m. – "George Washington" (United States, 2000), directed by David Gordon Green, tells the story of some slow summer days in a decaying Southern town, where children meet to negotiate the bridge into adulthood. Green will be a guest, along with Curtis Cotton III, one of the film's stars.

7 p.m. – "Wonder Boys" (United States, 2000), directed by Curtis Hanson, starring Michael Douglas as a college professor. It’s a funny and touching story about people and especially about trying to be a good teacher.

10 p.m. – "Grand Canyon" (United States, 1991), directed by Lawrence Kasdan and featuring Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard, Mary McDonnell and Steve Martin in a film about the gulf between the races that may be timelier than ever. Woodard is scheduled as a guest.

Friday, April 26
1 p.m. – "Kwik Stop" (United States, 2001), an adventuresome independent film made in Chicago, which starts out to be a road picture and then detours into a psychological drama. Director Michael Gilio and producer Rachel Tenner will be guests.

4 p.m. – "Two Women" (Iran, 1999), directed by Tahmineh Milani, about a woman who is allowed the independence to go to university, up to a point. Milani will be coming from Teheran to be a guest.

7 p.m. – "Innocence" (Australia, 2000), directed by Paul Cox, who will be attending his second festival as a guest. It's a glowing love story about two older people who find that youthful passion has not faded. Scheduled to attend along with Cox are star Julia Blake and composer Paul Grabowsky.

10 p.m. – "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" (United Kingdom/United States, 1998), directed by James Ivory, from a Kaylie Jones' novel inspired by her relationship with her parents, one of them the novelist James Jones. Kaylie Jones will be a guest.

Saturday, April 27
1 p.m. – "Paperhouse" (United States, 1988), directed by Bernard Rose, a fable about a sick girl who imagines a friend. It’s a visually captivating film for all ages and the festival’s free family matinee. Rose will be a guest.

4 p.m. – "Diamond Men" (United States, 2000), directed by Daniel M. Cohen, with Robert Forster as a diamond salesman whose journey into retirement includes love, crime and unexpected twists. Cohen and Forster are scheduled as guests.

7 p.m. – "Metropolis" (Germany, 1927), the Fritz Lang-directed silent classic, accompanied by a live performance by the Alloy Orchestra of Cambridge, Mass.

10 p.m. – "Metropolis" (Japan, 2001), the new Japanese animated film of the same title, directed by Taro Rin, which springboards from the original into a fable about a city of the future. Drew "Moriarity" McWeeny, west coast editor of "Ain’t It Cool News," will be a guest.

Sunday, April 28
1 p.m. – "Say Amen, Somebody" (United States, 1983), George Nierenberg's joyous documentary about gospel music, followed by a live performance by a group featured in the film, Chicago's Barrett Sisters. Nierenberg will be a guest.

Other scheduled festival guests include Michael Barker, president of Sony Classics; Paul Speaker, president of Madstone Films; Lorr Kramer, director of Special Technical Projects at Digital Theater Systems (DTS); and Indian filmmaker Mitra Sen, whose short film "Just a Little Red Dot" will be screened by a UI cinema studies class. George Walton and Tyrene (Manson) Walton, stars from "On the Ropes," screened at the 2001 festival, will be guests again this year.

Festival passes are $50 and tickets for individual films at $6. Both are on sale at the theater box office, (217) 356-9053. Passes also may be purchased online at

On April 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Ebert will sign copies of his new book, "The Great Movies," on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright Street, Champaign.

For more information, visit the Web site at or contact Mary Susan Britt, the festival's assistant director, at or (217) 244-0552; Nickie Dalton, the festival manager, at or (217) 333-2350; or Nate Kohn, the festival director, at or (706) 542-4972.