Ebertfest 2015

Posted on March 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Passes are on sale for Ebertfest 2015!  I’ll be there!  From Chaz Ebert’s blog:

We are opening with Jean-Luc Godard’s silent opus in 3D, “Adieu Au Langage” (“Goodbye To Language”). Some have complained that you were against 3D films, but we know that you were against 3D when it was used only as a gimmick to charge more money, or when it wasn’t done well. Indeed you praised 3D in “Avatar“, “Hugo” and “Cave of the Forgotten Dreams.” I daresay you would find Godard’s use of 3D here refreshing. It creates 3D imagery that adds to the movie-going experience. And actressHeloise Godet will experience it with us.

We are also presenting a tribute to Harold Ramis, that Renaissance man who was as meticulous about other aspects of his life as he was about building his comedies. The beloved director and actor passed away in February 2014. Displayed at his funeral was a violin that Harold had made by hand and taught himself to play. It was on a table. But Harold had to first teach himself to build the table in order to have a surface on which to construct the violin. That’s the kind of man Harold was. We will welcome Harold’s widow, Erica Ramis, andTrevor Albert, the producer who worked with Harold on several of his masterpieces, including “Groundhog Day,” which has been adopted by a Buddhist organization as a template for life (reliving it over and over again until we get it right).

Ramis also wrote the scripts for such classic hits as “Animal House,” “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters,” and directed  comedy classics including “Caddyshack” and “Analyze This.” We will celebrate his life with never-before-seen clips and other remembrances from surprise guests. One of the last conversations you and Harold had was about the transcendent nature of Charlie Kaufman’s movie “Synecdoche, New York.” You both saw a higher meaning in every frame. We get to glimpse some of the inner workings of Ramis’ mind when we analyze the profound life lessons he secretly embedded in some of his most entertaining movies.

On the heels of gaining a well-deserved reputation as one of the hottest tickets on the festival circuit, James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour” will screen at Ebertfest, marking the director’s second visit following his appearance a few years ago with actress Shailene Woodley for his film much-admired by you, “The Spectacular Now.” “The End of the Tour” features a richly anticipated performance by Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, and co-stars Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack.

The highlights in Segel’s career are numerous: starring in Judd Apatow’s cult classic sitcom, “Freaks and Geeks”; earning raves for his boldly comedic nude scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall“; crooning the Oscar-winning tune, “Man or Muppet,” in 2012’s hit, “The Muppets“; and winning the hearts of viewers during all nine seasons of “How I Met Your Mother.” Segel can now add another achievement to this formidable list, when he accepts the Golden Thumb at this year’s festival, along with Ponsoldt.

Another returning guest this year is Ramin Bahrani, who dedicated his latest film, “99 Homes,” to you. Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield and Laura Dernheadline the impressive cast of this timely drama, a film you would have loved to review.

After all, it was you who declared Bahrani “a great American director,” and indeed he has earned multiple awards, including the FIPRESCI prize in Venice for “Goodbye Solo” (which screened at last year’s Ebertfest) and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Accompanying Bahrani onstage will be one of the film’s stars, accomplished 13-year-old actorNoah Lomax, who has appeared in everything from “The Walking Dead” and “The Middle” to “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” Lomax is one of the first child actors to attend the festival, and we are eager to view the filmmaking process through his perspective.

Like Bahrani, former Chicagoan Alan Polsky has dedicated his career to making and supporting films of exceptional quality.

His company, Polsky Films, which he created with his brother, Gabe (director of last year’s celebrated documentary, “Red Army“), has produced several important pictures. One that you absolutely loved was Werner Herzog’s spectacularly entertaining  “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” starring Nicolas Cage in one of his most unforgettable performances.

In 2013, Alan and Gabe co-directed a fine character study, “The Motel Life,” pairingStephen Dorff and Emile Hirschas brothers on the run. The film also stars Dakota Fanning. We look forward to welcoming Alan to our festival.

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