'Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself'

‘Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself’ will be among the films shown at Ebertfest, set for April 19-22 at the Virginia Theatre.

CHAMPAIGN — Thirty-seven years later, Frank Oz still hasn’t forgotten what Roger Ebert had to say in the Sun-Times about the horror/comedy/musical he’d directed.

“I was very happy for this quote: ‘This is the kind of movie that cults are made of, and after ‘Little Shop (of Horrors)’ finishes its first run, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it develop into a successor to ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ as one of those movies that fans want to include in their lives,’” Oz says.

So when the invitation arrived — to be part of the Champaign film festival founded by the late critic, April’s Ebertfest 23 — Oz was a “yes.”

The legendary puppeteer — known for voicing Yoda in the “Star Wars” series and Miss Piggy on “The Muppets” — will accompany his 2020 film, “Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself,” to the Virginia Theatre.

Also among the first wave of films unveiled Thursday, which all fit this year’s festival theme — “Empathy at the Movies”:

  • The 1953 Japanese drama “Tokyo Story,” which came out on top of an audience choice poll and was one of Roger Ebert’s all-time favorites.
  • The 1987 German romantic fantasy film “Wings of Desire.”
  • The 2022 documentary “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands.”
  • The 2020 fantasy drama “Nine Days.”
  • The 1920 silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”