First Roger Ebert Symposium to feature out-of-this-world film

First Roger Ebert Symposium to feature out-of-this-world film

URBANA — The first Roger Ebert Symposium will explore the cinematic presentation of science and related subjects, including an IMAX film shot from space, with guests getting to hear from the former astronaut who did much of the shooting and the writer/director.

The free event will have a diverse collection of visualization experts, journalists, scientists, media experts, artists and designers. It starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 1 in the auditorium of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., U.

A highlight will be the 4:30 p.m. screening of the film "A Beautiful Planet," narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, in the IMAX theater at the Goodrich Savoy 16, which is co-sponsoring the event.

Much of the film was shot from the International Space Station, with NCSA's Advanced Visualization Laboratory collaborating on the opening and closing scenes of virtual flight through intergalactic space.

Tickets for the film and symposium are not required, but preference will be given to those who pre-register online at

"Empathy for the Universe: Storytelling and Data Visualization," is a tribute to film critic Ebert five years after his death. The event is a collaboration between the University of Illinois College of Media, the Ebert Center and NCSA.

"The symposium embodies the principles Roger stood for, including empathy, compassion and inclusion, whether we are talking about the earth, the cosmos or our oceans," said Chaz Ebert, his widow and co-founder of Ebertfest.

The day's first panel discussion at 9:30 a.m., "Science on the Screen," will feature former astronaut Terry Virts, a cinematographer for "A Beautiful Planet," who spent 200 days aboard the International Space Station and shot much of the film, along with writer/director Toni Myers.

Other participants in the day's panel discussions:

— Anita Chan, an Illinois professor of media and cinema studies specializing in global imaginaries around new information technologies.

— Brand Fortner, an Illinois alumnus, a professor of physics at North Carolina State University and an expert on accessible scientific visualization.

— Temple Grandin, an Illinois alumna and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University known for her work on the humane treatment of livestock (participating remotely).

— Brant Houston, an Illinois professor of journalism who specializes in investigative and computer-assisted reporting.

— Karrie Karahalios, an Illinois professor of computer science specializing in computer-mediated communication and online community building.

— Nate Kohn, director of Ebertfest, film producer and director of the MFA screenwriting program at the University of Georgia.

— Katie Mack, a professor of physics at North Carolina State University known for her public science outreach through her (@AstroKatie) Twitter account.

— Stacey Robinson, an Illinois professor of graphic design whose graphic novels and other work explore ideas of Afrofuturism and black utopias.

— Rachel Switzky, the inaugural director of the Siebel Center for Design at Illinois and a former executive at the global design firm IDEO.

— Doron Weber, a vice president at the Sloan Foundation who runs a program to advance public understanding of science, technology and economics and bridge the cultures of science and the humanities.

The full schedule and additional information on participants can be found at the event's website.