Ebertfest lineup revealed

Ebertfest lineup revealed

CHAMPAIGN — The movie that earned Philip Seymour Hoffman his only Oscar and a groundbreaking film directed by a Saudi Arabian woman will join an already-loaded lineup at Roger Ebert's Film Festival here next month.

"Capote," the critically acclaimed 2005 film starring the late Seymour-Hoffman as author Truman Capote, will be part of the 16th Ebertfest on April 23-27.

Also coming to Champaign-Urbana: director Haifaa Al-Mansour, who won several foreign and international film awards for "Wadjda," about a Saudi girl who wants a bicycle in a country that views them as dangerous to a girl's virtue.

As usual, Ebertfest at the Virginia Theatre will feature an eclectic mix of American, foreign and independent films and a star-studded guest list topped off by directors Spike Lee and Oliver Stone.

Here's the first look at the 12-movie lineup, daily schedule and special guests, which will be officially announced mid-morning today:


7:30 p.m. "Life Itself" (2014). Opening the festival, fittingly enough, will be the Steve James-directed biopic that incorporates footage from the last four months of Roger Ebert's life, along with material from the late critic's 2011 memoir of the same title.

Guest: James.


1 p.m. "Museum Hours" (2012), a drama in which a Vienna art museum guard befriends a foreign visitor taking refuge from a friend's medical emergency. Together they explore their lives and the city, and reflect on the art in the museum.

Guest: Director Jem Cohen.

4 p.m. "Short Term 12" (2013), a drama about a female counselor who, with her live-in boyfriend, works at a foster-care center for at-risk teens. The film stars Brie Larson, who won best actress and breakout awards for her role.

Guests: Larson and actor Keith Stanfield.

9 p.m. "Young Adult" (2011), a comedy/drama and character study about a former beauty queen (Charlize Theron) who returns to her small Minnesota hometown. Despite her beauty, she is so unlikeable she is "likely to be single until the end of time," Ebert wrote in his review. Patton Oswalt plays a man she barely remembers from high school but who tries to befriend her.

Guest: Oswalt, who also will host a free screening of 1974's "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" at 7 p.m. on April 22, the eve of the festival, at Foellinger Auditorium.


1 p.m. "He Who Gets Slapped" (1924), a silent film in which a scientist is destroyed by a friend who steals both his wife and his lifelong research. He joins a circus as a clown; his popular act involves being slapped repeatedly. Eventually, he finds redemption in the love of another circus performer.

Guests: the three-man Alloy Orchestra of Cambridge, Mass., an Ebertfest regular.

4 p.m. "Capote" (2005), a drama that follows Seymour Hoffman as Capote through the process of writing "In Cold Blood," the author's seminal true-crime novel about two men's brutal murders of four members of a rural Kansas family in 1959.

Guest: None announced.

8:30 p.m. "Do the Right Thing" (1989), a comedy/drama about a day in the life of a Brooklyn neighborhood. Director Spike Lee doubles as Mookie, a pizza deliveryman working for an Italian-American pizzeria owner named Sal (Danny Aiello). The day explodes in racial tension and ends in tragedy.

Guest: Lee.


11 a.m. "Wadjda" (2012), a drama about a precocious Saudi girl in a suburb of Riyadh who desperately wants to buy a green bike despite her mother's fears about repercussions. It's the first feature-length film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia by a female director.

Guests: Al-Mansour and perennial Ebertfest guest Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. Sony distributed "Wadjda."

2 p.m. "A Simple Life" (2011), a quiet drama from Hong Kong about a female servant who has cared for four generations of the same family all her life and now serves the only family member remaining in China. After raising him from infancy, she must rely on him for her own care after she suffers a stroke.

Guest: Director Ann Lui.

5 p.m. "Goodbye Solo" (2008), about an elderly white man who asks an African immigrant taxi driver in Winston-Salem, N.C., to take him to the top of a windy mountain, and the relationship that develops between the two.

Guest: Director Ramin Bahrani, who brought his "Man Push Cart" to Ebertfest '07 and was considered by the critic to be one of America's great young talents.

9 p.m. "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), the Oliver Stone-directed drama starring Tom Cruise as the real-life Ron Kovic, a wounded Vietnam veteran struggling to deal with paralysis, poor medical treatment, anti-war hostility — and his own changing feelings about the war.

Guest: Stone.


Noon. "Bayou Maharajah" (2013), a music documentary about James Booker, a singer-pianist whose unique style combined classical, jazz and rhythm and blues. Booker, who was blind, was plagued by addictions; he died in 1983 at age 43. The festival's finale will feature a live performance by New Orleans-based pianist Henry Butler, who also is blind.

Guests: Director Lily Keber, producer Nate Kohn and Butler.

Tickets for individual screenings are $14 for adults and $12 for senior citizens and students and will go on sale beginning April 1 through the Virginia box office or by calling the theater at 217-356-9063. Sales for each movie will be limited to four per person.

Festival passes are $145 each; a few remain on sale at the Virginia.

For information, go to ebertfest.com.

Topics (1):Film