Ebert Center prioritizes film education

Meilin+Wang

Meilin Wang

By Cecilia Milmoe, Features Editor

The Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies, a part of the College of Media, has nearly finished its first semester of providing opportunities for students, co-sponsoring exhibits and offering programs for prospective film critics.

University alum Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz Ebert, debuted the program in 2009, and the center was in development for over a decade. After receiving over $5 million in donations, the center finally launched in the Fall 2022 semester.

Julie Turnock, director of the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies and an associate professor in Media, said the center is developing even more programs for the future.

“Well, it’s brand new this year,” Turnock said. “So, we are, how do I say, developing a program for what it will provide, but it is meant to have benefits to undergraduates, faculty, graduate students and the community.”

Turnock said that so far, there has been the “inaugural Ebert lecture,” which featured film scholar Mark Williams and a personalized filmed message from Martin Scorsese.

One of the major programs of the center is the Ebert Fellows Program, which Turnock said is open to undergraduate students in the College of Media.

“Undergraduates in the College of Media can apply to be an Ebert Fellow, which means that they get mentored by film critic Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune,” Turnock said.

Andrew Stover, junior in Media and an Ebert Fellow, said he “loves the benefits.”

“Some may think it’s all about reviewing films and learning about film criticism, but it’s actually going to be a wide range of things including podcasting, interviewing, music criticism and just all the different ways that you can review media,” Stover added.

Stover said he has always been interested in writing reviews, and when he learned about the program, he “instantly knew that (he) wanted to apply.”

Lee Beckett, junior in Media, echoed this sentiment, saying that the program “just seemed perfect for (his) interests.”

“So far, we’ve been talking about writing style and crafting your particular voice through your writing and trying to connect to art with people who don’t know very much about it and translating kind of complex topics into language that most people find accessible,” Beckett added.

Stover drew attention to a project the fellows have been working on called “The Moment When.” The project entails focusing on a specific moment in a film or a show that is particularly special and building a review off of that moment.

“What we’re doing now, it did a push me to consider how to write things in-depth,” Stover said. “It’s just very difficult to do, and even I had a hard time doing it, but I think I got it down to what I wanted.”

Turnock said that in the future, the center will have many more events. In the spring, there will be the Ebert Symposium, which will be part of Ebert Fest in April.

“We will have (screenings) on top of that — hopefully in the near future — and also co-sponsored events as well,” she said.

Turnock further elaborated on her interest in having more screenings.

“I certainly hope that there will be more screenings in the future,” she said. “Although I know that there are a lot of people on campus who are interested in cinema and interested in going to screenings, that’s something that our campus doesn’t have very much of.” 

 

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