My friend Chaz Ebert is profiled in today’s Chicago Tribune as she prepares to go to the Sundance Film Festival for the first time since Roger’s death last April. This time, she is not going as the wife of a critic. She is attending on behalf of the new documentary about Roger, based on his book, Life Itself: A Memoir, directed by Steve James, whose Hoop Dreams was one of Roger’s all-time favorite films. In the article, Chaz talks about her wide-ranging projects to carry Roger’s legacy forward.
His website, RogerEbert.com, is growing its readership, reports his wife of 20 years, Chaz Ebert, while it employs dozens of film critics and writers, mostly as freelancers. “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James’ documentary based on the late critic’s 2011 memoir “Life Itself” premieres next Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, also where eight aspiring film critics will receive mentorship and see their work published on Indiewire and RogerEbert.com in a collaboration between the independent-film website and what Chaz is calling the Roger Ebert Film Critic Scholar program….Meanwhile, the 16th annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (formerly Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival and commonly referred to as Ebertfest) will take place April 23-27 in Champaign’s Virginia Theatre. This will be the first Ebertfest without Roger’s direct involvement, although festival director Nathaniel Kohn and Chaz Ebert say he left behind a long list of films he wished to see programmed down the line.
She is even in talks about a Siskel and Ebert musical.
As the art of film criticism has suffered from the avalanche of new media and the loss of newspaper space, it is wonderful that so many of us who were inspired and supported by Roger can help to bring his professionalism and his passion for movies and writing to another generation.