Andrew Hall shares legacy of Ebertfest


Photo Courtesy of Andrew Hall LinkedIn

Andrew Hall, assistant festival director for the Ebert Film Festival, talks about his experience with Ebertfest and the difference its made within the CU community.

By Lilli Bresnahan, Staff Writer

Andrew Hall, assistant festival director for the Ebert Film Festival, shares how Ebertfest has impacted him and has the power to change lives. 

Hall has a career in the events industry. He has worked with the University, which he attended for his second doctoral degree. He has also been connected through managing the theater. 

“I’ve been around events, like Ebertfest, for about a decade,” Hall said. 

After a long interview process, he was offered the job. 

The festival is centered around Champaign-Urbana community because Roger Ebert, American film critic and journalist, valued those communities. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

“I think (the movies are) linked to the extra things around the festival which I like being a part of,” Hall said.  

Ebertfest has partnered with other organizations in the community. According to Hall, making a difference in the community is what excites him still about this event. 

Ebertfest has a partnership with a local charity called the Alliance for Inclusion and Respect. Through their help, the festival presents an anti-stigma movie. 

“Having people from our community talk after the movie about why that movie might impact or be able to change lives is kind of an interesting way of showing the importance of films and why Roger thought films were so valuable,” Hall said.

“Those kinds of films are really exciting to me, because they have that humanist mission of changing people’s thoughts and changing people’s lives.”

Hall says that Roger has influenced him on a personal level.

 “At a personal level, he was still a wonderfully kind and generous person,” Hall said. “I remember once helping him to a car after a movie and just a gentle hand squeeze just to show his appreciation and kindness like that. Small moments where anybody who engaged with them, he made them feel important.”

He’s inspiring, not only on a personal level, but also as a critic, Hall says. Ebert said that film is for everyone, and Hall believes in that. 

 “I think that’s still inspiring when working with his film festival, because we still want the film festival to belong to everybody,” Hall said. “That’s what his critical vision kind of inspires me to work towards.”

Hall loves film because it is so “democratic” and “innovative.”

“Film is a narrative art, but it’s a narrative art that can reach people across different backgrounds,” Hall said.

Spreading the love of film occurs through choosing diverse films to present, according to Hall. 

“We can spread the love of film to as wide an audience as possible, by having that kind of diversity in the movies that we show,” Hall said. 

Hall believes there are a lot of movies from great filmmakers that haven’t had the chance to be seen by the American public. 

“I think this is becoming much more widely known now,” Hall said. “We’ve had lots of movements in the film industry, which have tried to strive to make the film industry itself more representative of the American people.”

Hall’s favorite film experience at the festival was when watching “Amazing Grace,” the Aretha Franklin documentary. 

In 2019, the festival showcased an Aretha Franklin video documentary, which documented her live performance. The Ebert Festival Committee invited the filmmakers of the documentary and the local Martin Luther King Jr. Gospel Choir to watch the event.

“I really enjoyed that,” Hall said. “Because it was a musical performance movie. And that’s something unusual for us to put on.”

[email protected]