CHAMPAIGN — The 15th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival has received a 2013 film festival grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This is the fifth time the academy has given the grant to the festival, a special event of the University of Illinois College of Media, Ebert's alma mater.
Ebertfest will receive $20,000 from the academy to help pay costs associated with the question-and-answer sessions and the panel discussions — both signature components of the festival.
"We are honored to receive the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences," Mary Susan Britt, associate director of Ebertfest, said in a news release. "The grant will ensure that Ebertfest continues to bring a rich experience to attendees, and we cannot thank the academy enough for believing in Roger's mission of sharing his love of film with our community of film lovers from around the world."
Implemented in 1999, the Film Festival Grants program has awarded $5.3 million to festivals nationwide. The grants are given to festivals to help them strengthen the connection between filmmakers and the public.
Ebertfest is a five-day event created, hosted and programmed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic. Each year, he selects 12 to 14 films representing a cross-section of cinematic works that he believes may be overlooked by audiences, critics and distributors. The entries include films with no distributor, independent and studio films with small audiences, formats such as 70 mm and less-popular genres such as documentaries.
All of the films are screened at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign. A portion of the festival's income is devoted to the theater's ongoing renovations.
After each screening, film scholars and others lead Q&A sessions with filmmaker guests. The panel discussions also take place the Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings of the festival at the Illini Union.
The slate of films and filmmakers featured at Ebertfest 2013 will be announced in March. Festival passes are $145 each and on sale now via http://www.thevirginia.org  or at the Bresnan Meeting Center, 706 Kenwood Road, C.
Tickets to the individual movies will be $14 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens and will become available for purchase April 1.