A Film Lover's Loss
I became a fan of Roger Ebert as I became a fan of film. In Urbana, Illinois, his Great Films collections were among other materials I used to learn about movies--not just about the stories they told, but about the art form. When I needed a break from the seriousness of it all, I could always find laughs in a collection of his 1-or-fewer star reviews, like Your Movie Sucks.
I also had the unique opportunity to attend a few Ebertfests--the Roger Ebert Film Festivals--held in Champaign, along with other Ebert fans from around the country. We'd pack the historic Virginia Theater for about a week and watch ten or more films that Ebert loved. Discussion with performers, directors, and others affiliated with the films would follow each screening. I began attending these festivals after Ebert lost his ability to speak, which put his wife Chaz on the microphone more often. During the films, of course, Ebert and Chaz would be seated in the back, where the plush recliner-looking seat of our host was installed. In between screenings, I'd run into the couple on accident--they always had so much energy and seemed happy to see everyone, even greeting us personally. I felt like I had a personal connection to the both of them, but I'm not unique in that--Ebert fans around the globe share this feeling.
Now that he's gone, I'll be going back to his books to remember him. I'd been waiting for the right time, to be in the right mood, to read his memoir, Life Itself. Now feels right.
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