Then Roger’s voice filled the Virginia Theatre once again courtesy of the “Siskel & Ebert” review of Zwigoff’s masterful documentary “Crumb,” which served as a thematic forebear to “Ghost World.” After the screening, Zwigoff was joined onstage by Birch, whose career includes numerous other essential titles such as “American Beauty” and “Hocus Pocus,” for a Q&A moderated by me, Matt Fagerholm, this site’s Literary Editor.
On April 23rd, the fourth and last day of Ebertfest, this year’s esteemed group of Ebert Fellows who were selected by the College of Media at the University of Illinois, and mentored by Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, were introduced to the audience. They are the sixth class of Ebert Fellows since the program was endowed by Chaz and Roger Ebert: Zeke Allis, Zulema Herrera and Michelle Husain. Afterwards, there was a screening of Henri Étiévant’s 1927 silent classic, “Siren of the Tropics,” starring screen icon Josephine Baker, who recently was inducted into the French Pantheon, the highest award in France. Renee Baker and a 10-piece section of the Chicago Modern Orchestra performed an astonishing live musical accompaniment to the picture that earned a standing ovation from the audience. Past Fulbright scholar Dr. Douglas A. Williams joined Baker, Michael Phillips and Chaz Ebert for the subsequent Q&A.
Not only is Krisha Fairchild the powerhouse star of Trey Edward Shults’ galvanizing debut feature, “Krisha,” she is also a phenomenally powerful speaker in her own right. The achingly personal nature of the narrative film, which portrays the shattering impact of addiction on a family, was detailed by Fairchild in both her intro to the screening and her Q&A with our site’s Contributing Editor, Nell Minow, and the President of The Champaign County Mental Health Board, Joseph Omo-Osagie, moderated by Ebertfest staple Dr. Eric Pierson, professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego. Preceding the feature was a preview of “Roma Amor,” a gorgeously shot black and white film by devoted Ebertfest attendees Giò Crisafulli and Melissa Batista.
Filmmaker Jeremy Ungar was on hand to present the acclaimed documentary, “Soy Cubana,” which he co-directed with Ivaylo Getov, and was produced by his mother, speech-language pathologist Robin Miller Ungar. Though this portrait of Vocals Vidas, an all-female Cuban quartet, won the Audience Award at last year’s SXSW Film Festival, the screen at the Virginia Theatre was the biggest one this film has been projected upon thus far. The subsequent Q&A with Jeremy and Robin was followed by a wonderful performance from Tito Carillo and the University of Illinois’ Latin Jazz Ensemble.