Monthly at the Egyptian and Aero Theatres
When Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert died in April, the world of movies lost its most influential, enthusiastic commentator. Initially a sports reporter, Ebert took over as the Sun-Times’ movie reviewer in 1967 and held the spot until his death. He was an early champion of countless important directors, writing the first positive assessments of Martin Scorsese and Wes Craven and later drawing attention to John Carpenter, Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen Brothers before they became internationally known.
He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, and together with crosstown rival Gene Siskel (critic for the Chicago Tribune), he created a television program that would last for decades in various incarnations. That TV show made thoughtful film criticism accessible to the masses and turned films like MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and THE THIN BLUE LINE into art-house sensations. All the while Ebert wrote thousands of words every week for the Sun-Times and published dozens of books - he also wrote the screenplay for Russ Meyer's subversive masterpiece BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.
Ebert became more prolific and more thoughtful with every passing year, publishing some of his best criticism after illness left him unable to speak and often bedridden; a tireless supporter of everything from obscure foreign festival films to stylish Hollywood franchises, his passions were both broad and deep. In the coming months, the American Cinematheque will pay tribute to Roger Ebert with screenings of his favorite films, beginning with THE TREE OF LIFE, VERTIGO and CITIZEN KANE.
Series compiled by Grant Moninger and Gwen Deglise. Program notes by Jim Hemphill.