Ebertfest announces opening, closing films

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The Daily Illini File Photo

People gather for the Ebert Film Festival at the entrance to Virginia Theatre on April 10.

By Paige Leden

The 22nd Ebert Film Festival Ebertfest is coming to Champaign April 15-18 and will open with the remastered and restored extended edition of “The Cotton Club Encore,” according to the Illinois News Bureau.

This Francis Ford Coppola drama is set in the 1930s at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem, revolving around the entertainers and gangsters who frequented the club during the lavish jazz era and star Richard Gere, Gregory Hines and Diane Lane.

Also announced was the closing film “There’s Something About Mary,” starring Cameron Diaz, Ben Miller and Matt Dillion and directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The romantic comedy starts with a prom date gone wrong and the boy, now a man, tracking down the “girl of his dreams” years later only to suddenly be competing for her affection with the private investigator he hired to track her down.

Along with the showing of these films, composer and artist Kathryn Bostic will be performing songs, along with a local jazz trio, similar to the music in “The Cotton Club.” There will also be movie guests Bobby Farrelly and screenwriter John Strauss from “There’s Something About Mary” participating in a Q&A after the film’s showing.

The rest of the films, guests and events line up for the festival will be announced at a later date. The festival’s films will be screened at the Virginia Theatre, the restored 1920s era movie palace in downtown Champaign while the related talks will be at Hyatt Place and the University.

The film festival was created by University alumni Roger Ebert, a Chicago Sun-Times film critic and Pulitzer Prize winner, and his wife Chaz Ebert. They created the festival to celebrate films and other cinematic works generally overlooked by audiences and critics. Roger died in 2013, leaving Chaz and festival director Nate Kohn to curate the film lists based on Ebert’s past picks.

Discounted student tickets for the festival, limit a thousand, can be purchased on the Eberfest website, Virginia Theater website or the theatre box office. Individual tickets for the movies can be purchased beginning April 1.

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