This is our second trip to the “Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival.” and we certainly did not overlook our invitation to attend the festival reception located at the home of President & Mrs. James J. Stukel (University of Illinois). Critic Doctor intern Mike Hall and I arrived in Urbana and it was like entering a war zone. Storms began to roll in and the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch. We exited off I-74, headed down Neil Street and we were greeted by several fire trucks and police cars. A house up ahead was engulfed in flames. Luckily, this was not a foreshadow of things to come.
When we arrived at the President’s Mansion, we buried ourselves in our raincoats and treaded through rain to take refuge in the elegant home. Festival guests began arriving in droves. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times film critic, finally appeared from a back room to greet incoming guests. We spoke briefly and I introduced Ebert to my colleague. He jokingly commented to Mike, “You must be the Critic Doctor intern!” Ebert’s warm sense of humor and hospitality really made people feel welcome as they lined up to be greeted outside the front door.
We mingled with folks and were surprised by the extremely positive comments coming from guests regarding my Critic Doctor column. I don’t say this to brag or to feed an ego, but I feel proud that people from all walks of life (regardless of status) enjoyed it. One guest said, “It’s great there is someone out there to keep the critics honest.”
The food was just as good as last year. We nibbled on some sandwiches until Ebert took stage in the piano room. Among some of the people he introduced: Dusty Kohl (Founder, Toronto Film Festival), Michael Gilio (writer/director of “Kwik Stop”), David Gordon Green (director, “George Washington”), Kaylie Jones (“A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries” based on her novel), Bernard Rose (director, “Paperhouse”), Dan Cohen (director, “Diamond Men”), Paul Cox (director, “Innocence”) and more.
Ebert was stunned when he introduced director Bernard Rose. His film “Paperhouse” was scheduled for the festival’s Free Family Matinee on Saturday. When Ebert said the movie was “G” rated, Rose quickly informed Ebert the film was rated “PG-13” and was considered a horror film. Rose said, “The film has a lot of scares in it, and is quite intense.” Ebert ended up apologizing to audiences each day and forewarned parents about the “PG-13” rating.
By the time we left the mansion, the weather outside cleared up. Our next destination took us to the “Virginia Theater” where we would watch the festival’s first film – “Patton” (George C. Scott, 1970). You might ask, “How could this film be overlooked?” Read on for more on “Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival”…
Get the whole story in part two of THUMBATHON: ROGER EBERT’S OVERLOOKED FILM FESTIVAL>>>