One of Champaign-Urbana’s most famous native sons now has a permanent home at one of his favorite spots in the community.
A bronze sculpture of the late film critic Roger Ebert, first unveiled during the 16th annual ‘Ebertfest’ in April, was dedicated outside the Virginia Theater Thursday.
Bloomington Artist Rick Harney’s creation now includes plaques discussing Ebert’s life, and a list of donors to the $125,000 project.
Ebert’s wife Chaz Ebert says her husband never forgot where he came from.
“He really believed that I am my brother’s keeper," he said. "And so he reached out to a lot of people. I know over the years through the Urbana Free Library and through some of the other organizations. He used to donate books, he used to come back and speak, and now he can’t do those things. But symbolically, he still will.”
Anyone can pose with the Ebert sculpture, seated in the middle of three auditorium chairs, giving the trademark ‘thumbs up.’
Chaz Ebert has been touring with the film 'Life Itself', Steve James' documentary film chronicling Ebert's life.
She said word has gotten out about Harney's work.
"Champaign and Urbana, hold onto your hats," she said. "I think people are going to come to see this sculpture, because we've already gotten requests from other cities saying 'why isn't it in 'X' city?' And I said, because the community wanted it here, and because it's his hometown."
'Life Itself' screened during Ebertfest in April, and has been making its way through festival circuit. It's now available on demand, and opens in Champaign next Friday.
After he lost his voice, some say film critic Roger Ebert became an even better writer, pouring all his efforts into movie reviews and other columns. As he further mastered his craft, legendary writer, historian, actor and broadcaster Studs Terkel sent him a note about his ‘new’ voice. “This – what you write now, it’s more than about movies. Yes, it’s about the movies but there is something added. A new REFLECTION on life itself.”
Those last words became the title for Roger Ebert’s 2011 memoir, and is now the title of a new documentary about his life. Steven Zailian, screenwriter for ‘Schindler’s List” among other films, first approached director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, 2005) in late 2012 about the project. When James first met with Chaz and Roger about the direction the film would take, no one could have predicted he would pass away just five months later.
During this Focus interview, Jeff Bossert talks with filmmaker Steve James and Chaz Ebert about capturing Roger’s life, and his death, on film.
From WILL - News Local/State - March 20, 2014 11:33 AM
Haskell Wexler is one of the most influential cinematographers ever - his credits include 'The Conversation', 'In the Heat of the Night', 'The Thomas Crown Affair', 'Bound For Glory' and 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' He's in Champaign Illinois this week to introduce the film 'Days of Heaven' at Ebertfest. We spoke with him about his friendship with Roger Ebert, the switch to digital film, and his own beloved subversive 60s movie, 'Medium Cool'.
Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, screenwriter and journalist Roger Ebert will be remembered as one of the greatest film critics of all time. His mark on the cinema, our culture and our community are undeniable. This hour on Focus, guest host Jeff Bossert talks with Chicgao Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Phillips filled in for Roger on "At the Movies" when he first became ill and later took over the show. We'll also hear from several members of the Champaign-Urbana community and a long-time Ebertfest volunteer.
Did you know and love Roger? What did he mean to you? To our community? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus.
A new local WILL-TV special, Ebert Remembered, airing at 8 pm Thursday, April 18, will highlight excerpts of WILL-TV interviews with Roger Ebert in which he talks about his childhood in Urbana, his experience at the University of Illinois and his role as a movie critic.