Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival
Ebertfest: Roger Ebert's Film Festival, originally known as Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival but commonly referred to as simply Ebertfest, is an annual film festival
Film festival
A film festival is an organised, extended presentation of films in one or more movie theaters or screening venues, usually in a single locality. More and more often film festivals show part of their films to the public by adding outdoor movie screenings...

 held every April in Champaign
Champaign, Illinois
Champaign is a city in Champaign County, Illinois, in the United States. The city is located south of Chicago, west of Indianapolis, Indiana, and 178 miles northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. Though surrounded by farm communities, Champaign is notable for sharing the campus of the University of...

, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, organized by the College of Media at the University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

. Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 is a native of the adjoining town of Urbana, Illinois
Urbana, Illinois
Urbana is the county seat of Champaign County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,250. Urbana is the tenth-most populous city in Illinois outside of the Chicago metropolitan area....

 and is an alumnus of the University.

Selection criteria

Unlike typical film festivals, Ebertfest does not accept submissions. Roger Ebert, the TV and Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

film critic
Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and...

 selects films for the festival which in his opinion are excellent, but have been overlooked by the public or by film distribution companies. All films are selected from those that Ebert sees in the course of his normal reviewing work.

The original purpose of the Overlooked Film Festival, as reflected in the name, was to showcase films that had not been given enough attention by the public, film critics, or even distributors. Ebert has cheerfully admitted that he can bend the definition of "overlooked" to accommodate any film that he would like to include, since entire genres and formats can be overlooked as well as individual films. The selection philosophy is expected to continue, but with the name change there will no longer be a need to come up with a pretext for including any film.

70 mm

In most years the festival has included a film in the 70 mm format
70 mm film
70mm film is a wide high-resolution film gauge, with higher resolution than standard 35mm motion picture film format. As used in camera, the film is wide. For projection, the original 65mm film is printed on film. The additional 5mm are for magnetic strips holding four of the six tracks of sound...

. The films may be major releases, like 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

or Patton
Patton (film)
Patton is a 1970 American biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H...

, or less well-known, like 2005's showing of the French film Play Time. These films were all chosen primarily due to their use of the 70mm process, which Ebert feels is overlooked.

Silent film

Each year a silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

 is shown with live orchestral accompaniment. The films selected are generally well-known (for example, Nosferatu), but Ebert feels that silent films in general are overlooked by the majority of moviegoers. The festival also strives to include a musical film for the same reason. Performers providing live accompaniment have included the Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra
Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra
The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is a professional orchestra located in the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area in central Illinois. The Orchestra is the Professional Orchestra in Residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Illinois at...

 and the Alloy Orchestra
Alloy Orchestra
Alloy Orchestra is a musical ensemble based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, that performs its own accompaniments to silent films of the classic movie era. Percussionists Terry Donahue and Ken Winokur and keyboardist Caleb Sampson founded the group in 1990...


Festival format

At the festival before each screening Roger Ebert will make a few introductory remarks. After the film is shown he will have a discussion on stage with the filmmakers or others connected with the film, sometimes hosting a brief panel discussion.

Twelve to fourteen films are presented at each festival, opening with a single film on a Wednesday night and concluding with a single movie the following Sunday. On each day during the interim four films are presented.


Festival goers can purchase tickets to individual shows or run of the festival passes. As passholders do not necessarily attend every show, it is often possible to obtain tickets at the last minute after empty seats are counted.


Ebertfest is held at the Virginia Theatre, an old time movie palace in Champaign, Illinois and now owned by the Champaign Park District
Champaign Park District
The Champaign Park District is the municipality association responsible for the award-winning parks in the city of Champaign, Illinois. With over 500 acres of parkland within the city limits, Champaign has one of the highest ratios of park land to developed land of any American city.- West Side...

. Ebert often speaks of having attended films at the Virginia while growing up in Champaign-Urbana and attending the University.


The festival is a direct descendant of a program put on at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997 called Cyberfest which used the supposed birthday of HAL
HAL 9000
HAL 9000 is the antagonist in Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction Space Odyssey saga. HAL is an artificial intelligence that interacts with the astronaut crew of the Discovery One spacecraft, usually represented as a red television-camera eye found throughout the ship...

 (the computer in the 2001 film) to highlight the University's involvement in the history of computers and computing. The film was to be shown as part of Cyberfest, Roger Ebert had agreed to host and actor Gary Lockwood
Gary Lockwood
Gary Lockwood is an American actor probably best known for his iconic 1968 role as the astronaut Dr. Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey.-Early life:...

 was a special guest. It was suggested that the film should ideally be shown as it was originally, in 70 mm format. The original plan was to have the screening at the University's performing arts center but time constraints vs. the need to install projection equipment and elaborate six channel sound made this impossible. Someone suggested looking at the Virginia Theatre, as 70 mm films had been shown there in the past. At this point the theatre was in the hands of a local live theatre group and had not run films since sold by a theatre chain. All concerned were pleasantly surprised to learn the chain had left behind not only what is reputed to be the finest 35/70 mm projector made but also the screen and speakers. The rest of the equipment was brought in for the special showing which went perfectly.


Since that time, through generous donations, the Virginia has been able to fully equip its projection and sound system with a second projector, the latest in digital sound equipment and top quality lenses.

Instrumental in these upgrades has been notable Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

-based projection expert James Bond who doubles as one of the projectionists during the festival. The other projectionist is Steven Kraus, whose primary occupation is running a private screening room in Chicago used by studios to preview films for critics.

Name change

In April 2007 it was announced that beginning in 2008 with the tenth festival "overlooked" would be dropped from the name and subsequent events would simply be known as "Ebertfest - Roger Ebert's Film Festival." This does not necessarily indicate any change in the philosophy or theme but will simply eliminate the need to explain when current or even unreleased films are included which has sometimes been the case. They have sometimes been jokingly referred to as "pre-overlooked."

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.