20th annual Ebertfest to kick off with 'The Fugitive'

20th annual Ebertfest to kick off with 'The Fugitive'

CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois alumnus and film director Andrew Davis will be a guest as his movie "The Fugitive" opens the 20th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival.

Hosted by Chaz Ebert, this year's event runs April 18-22 at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

Three black female directors, including Ava DuVernay, whose "A Wrinkle in Time" is now in theaters, will also be guests and show their films.

At least eight additional films will be announced in the coming weeks, festival organizers said.

DuVernay, director of the Oscar-nominated "Selma," will be coming with her 2016 film "The 13th," which was nominated for the Oscar for best documentary.

Joining her are Amma Asante, coming with her 2013 film "Belle," and Julie Dash, coming with her 1991 film "Daughters of the Dust."

"The 13th," named after the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime, examines the history and operation of U.S. prisons.

"Belle" was inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an illegitimate mixed-race girl raised in privilege by 18th-century English aristocrats. She eventually plays a part in an effort to end slavery in England.

"Daughters of the Dust" tells the story of a black family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina near the turn of the 20th century that is in the midst of a generational split. Roger Ebert called the film "a tone poem of old memories, a family album in which all of the pictures are taken on the same day."

As for Davis' "The Fugitive," Roger Ebert called it "one of the best entertainments of the year" when it opened 25 years ago. The drama, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, follows a doctor on the run from the law after he's wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife.

Ebertfest passes are available for $150, plus processing. Attendees will receive a 15 percent discount when they buy a four-pack. Students discounts are available.

All passes can be bought online at ebertfest.com/festival-passes, over the phone at 217-356-9063, or at the Virginia Theatre box office, 203 W. Park Ave., C.

Tickets for individual movies will be available April 2. Admission is $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors.