CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — “The Big Lebowski,” a Coen brothers film about a laid-back, easygoing burnout known as “The Dude,” has joined the lineup for the 20th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival hosted by Chaz Ebert, or “Ebertfest,” coming April 18-22 to downtown Champaign.
And “The Dude” himself, the man who inspired the character, Jeff Dowd, will be a guest.
Jeff Dowd, inspiration for “The Dude”
Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
Dowd has been significantly more successful than his namesake – as a writer and producer heavily involved in the independent film movement, the founding of the Sundance Institute and the marketing of dozens of films. He is a recognized authority on many aspects of film production, marketing and distribution. Dowd will appear onstage following the film screening.
In his initial review of “The Big Lebowski” when it premiered 20 years ago, Roger Ebert described it as “a genial, shambling comedy about a human train wreck.” In spirit, he said, it “resembles the Coens’ ‘Raising Arizona,’ with its large cast of peculiar characters and its strangely wonderful dialogue.” That first review gave the film three stars, but in a later review he gave it four.
Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, or The Dude, and is joined by a number of well-known talents, among them John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro.
Festival organizers previously announced four films, all of which will be accompanied by their directors as guests: “The Fugitive,” directed by Andrew Davis, which will open the festival; “The 13th,” directed by Ava DuVernay; “Belle,” directed by Amma Asante, and “Daughters of the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash.
The remaining lineup of films and guests, along with the schedule of screenings, will be announced next week.
All Ebertfest films are shown in the ornate 1,500-seat Virginia Theatre, a restored downtown Champaign movie palace opened in 1921, which boasts a big screen, high-quality projection and sound, and a Wurlitzer organ. Festival guests appear onstage for Q&As after their respective films.
Ebertfest was co-founded in 1999 by Chicago Sun-Times film critic and University of Illinois alumnus Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz. Organized in collaboration with the College of Media at the U. of I., the festival in large part celebrates films, genres and formats that have been overlooked by distributors, audiences and/or critics.
Since Roger Ebert’s death in 2013, Chaz Ebert has served as the festival producer, as well as host, working with longtime festival director Nate Kohn in selecting the films. They draw from lists Roger made over the first 15 years of the festival and select others based on his established criteria.
Festival passes are available for $150, plus processing. Festivalgoers will receive a 15 percent discount when they purchase a four-pack. Additionally, a small number of U. of I. student passes will be made available at $100 each.
All passes can be purchased through www.ebertfest.com, www.thevirginia.org or at the Virginia Theatre box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063.
Tickets for individual movies will be available April 2. Admission is $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors.
For additional information, visit www.ebertfest.com.