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Kris Kristofferson among guests slated to attend Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Fest

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


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Actors Kris Kristofferson, Robert Forster and Cliff Robertson, along with an international cast of directors and other special guests, are scheduled to join film critic Roger Ebert and thousands of film buffs for Ebert’s fourth annual Overlooked Film Festival April 24-28 in Champaign-Urbana and at the University of Illinois.

Kristofferson and author Kaylie Jones will be on hand Thursday evening (April 25) to discuss "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries," which stars Kristofferson and is based on Jones' novel about life with her father, writer James Jones. (In a change from the previously announced schedule, the film is being screened on Thursday, switching places with "Grand Canyon," which now will be shown on Friday.)

Forster, the star of "Diamond Men," will join Ebert and writer, producer and director Dan Cohen for a discussion following the Saturday (April 27) screening of their film.

Robertson is a recent addition to the festival, though not connected with any of this year’s films. Among his numerous credits are roles as John F. Kennedy in "PT 109," Hugh Hefner in "Star 80," and as a mentally retarded man in "Charly," for which he won an Academy Award.

The festival will open on Wednesday evening (April 24) with a newly remastered 70mm print of "Patton," the 1970 Oscar-winner starring George C. Scott in the title role. On stage with Ebert following the film will be Richard Vetter, developer of Dimension 150, the optical system for 70mm photography and projection used in the film.

All three movies, along with 11 others, will be shown at the historic 1,500-seat Virginia Theater, a 1920s-era movie palace at 203 W. Park St. in Champaign. All of them will be followed with conversations on the Virginia stage among Ebert and guests associated with the films.

About 17,500 admissions were sold for last year's films, taking into account both festival passes and tickets for individual shows. Organizers are hoping for more than 20,000 admissions this year.

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

The festival also includes four free panel discussions held on the UI campus, one of them moderated by Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and co-host of the weekly televised movie-review program "Ebert & Roeper." Ebert also is a 1964 UI journalism graduate and adjunct professor in the journalism department.

On April 26, from 11 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 St., Champaign.

In making his selections for the festival, Ebert looks for films he feels have been overlooked by critics, distributors or audiences, and therefore deserve a second look.

The full schedule of films in the order they will be seen: "Patton" (United States, 1970), on Wednesday; "Hyenes" (Senegal, 1992), "George Washington" (United States, 2000), "Wonder Boys" (United States, 2000), and "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" (United Kingdom/United States, 1998), on Thursday; "Kwik Stop" (United States, 2001), "Two Women" (Iran, 1999), "Innocence" (Australia, 2000), and "Grand Canyon" (United States, 1991), on Friday; "Paperhouse" (United States, 1988), "Diamond Men" (United States, 2000), "Metropolis" (Germany, 1927), and "Metropolis" (Japan, 2001), on Saturday; and "Say Amen, Somebody" (United States, 1983) on Sunday.

Also, two film screenings associated with "Ebertfest" recently were scheduled at campus locations:

"Just a Little Red Dot" will be shown at 3 p.m. Wednesday (April 24) in Room G13 of the UI Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The screening is for a class, but is free and open to the public. Based on a true incident of discrimination, the film encourages young people to challenge racism and celebrate diversity. The film has traveled to more than 25 film festivals and won 12 international awards.

"On the Ropes," a documentary about boxing shown during last year's festival, will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Friday (April 26) in Room 101 of the Armory, 505 E. Armory St., Champaign. The film tells four stories centered on a Brooklyn neighborhood gym that produced boxing champions such as Riddick Bowe and Mark Breland. George Walton and Tyrene Manson Walton, featured in the film, will be present and will answer questions afterward.

Other guests who will take part in the festival, including the panel discussions:

The Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble from Cambridge, Mass., which writes and performs live accompaniment to classic silent films, using an assortment of peculiar objects. The group will provide the live accompaniment for the festival showing of the Fritz Lang-directed silent classic Metropolis.

Michael Barker, president of Sony Classics.

The Barrett Sisters, a Gospel trio from Chicago featured in the documentary film "Say Amen, Somebody," about the pioneers of Gospel music. Sisters Billie, DeLois and Rodessa will perform on the Virginia Theater stage following the Sunday screening of the film, the last day of the festival.

James Berardinelli, a Web-based film critic whose ReelViews Web site contains more than 1,600 movie reviews.

Dusty and Joan Cohl, founders of the Toronto Film Festival and the Floating Film Festival.

Curtis Cotton III, one of the stars of "George Washington," a coming-of-age story set during some slow summer days in a decaying Southern town.
Paul Cox, director of "Innocence," a love story about two older people who find that youthful passion has not faded. Cox is one of the most prolific and honored filmmakers in Australia, with more than 25 features and documentaries to his name.

Brand Fortner, founder of Spyglass and senior research scientist, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University.

Steve Garfinkel, Kodak regional account manager, U.S. East, feature films.
Michael Gilio, writer and director of "Kwik Stop," an film made in Chicago that begins as a road picture and detours into psychological drama. Gilio began his screenwriting and acting careers in Chicago, and has numerous film and television credits to his name, among them a co-starring role with Sidney Poitier in "To Sir With Love 2."

Paul Grabowsky, composer of the music for "Innocence."

David Gordon Green, first-time director of "George Washington."

Tom Holman, president of TMH Corp., professor of film sound at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, and a principal investigator in the university's Integrated Media Systems Center. Holman won an Academy Award for his contribution to the improvement of motion picture loudspeaker systems.

Lorr Kramer, director of Special Technical Projects at Digital Theater Systems (DTS).

Drew "Moriarity" McWeeny, West Coast editor of "Ain't It Cool News," who will join Ebert in discussing the new Japanese anime film "Metropolis."

Tahmineh Milani, director of "Two Women," an Iranian film about a woman who is allowed the independence to go to university, up to a point. She will be traveling to Illinois from Iran.

George T. Nierenberg, director of "Say Amen, Somebody." The film is one of a series growing out of Nierenberg’s fascination with the roots of American music and dance.

Terry Norris, one of the stars of "Innocence" and one of Australia’s most prominent television actors, with a career spanning more than four decades.

David Poland, a Web-based film critic who runs a site called The Hot Button.

Bernard Rose, director of "Paperhouse," his first feature film, about a young teen whose dreams begin to merge into real life. Rose won a BBC award for young filmmakers as a teenager, and has directed BBC television programs and numerous music videos.

Mitra Sen, writer, director and producer of "Just a Little Red Dot."
Paul Speaker, president of Madstone Films.

Rachel Tenner, producer of "Kwik Stop" and a partner in the Chicago-based casting agency Tenner and Paskal Casting. Among the agency’s casting credits are the films "What Women Want," "The Negotiator" and "Fargo."

Marila Zare’i, star of "Two Women." She will be coming to Illinois from Iran.

Dates, times and topics for the four free public panel discussions, all to be held in the General Lounge, second floor north, of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana:

Thursday, April 25
9-10:30 a.m., "The New Realities of Distributing Independent Films," moderated by Ebert.
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., "Sex and Death vs. Love and Life: Women and Power in Hollywood," moderated by Andrea Press, director of the UI Media Studies Program, in the Institute for Communications Research.

Friday, April 26
9-10:30 a.m., "Picture and Sound in Film," moderated by Geoffrey Poor, owner of Balanced Audio Technology, Champaign.
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., "Race and Gender Beyond ‘Grand Canyon,’ " moderated by Christine Catanzarite, associate director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Joining invited guests on the panels will be UI professors James Hay, speech communication; Fred Jaher, history; Richard J. Leskosky, cinema studies, and Patricia Gill and Angharad Valdivia, both from the Institute for Communications Research.

In another event associated with the festival, Robert Forster, perhaps best known for his role in the film "Jackie Brown," will present "Interacting," a motivational speaking program, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday (April 27) in Room 66 Library, 1408 W. Gregory St., Urbana. The program is free and open to the public. Additional information can be found at

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

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