I’ll conclude my Ebertfest posts this week (hopefully tomorrow and Wednesday), but for now, I’ll just post a little something I did on April 25th:
When I drove from Morgantown, WV to Champaign, IL, I strapped a Plantcam to the passenger seat, just to see what it could do. I attempted to use it once before (at B-Fest), and didn’t get very good results (as it isn’t made to shoot in low light), so I figured I’d give it another shot in daylight. As you can see, I at least got something usable this time.
Over the last few days, Fes and I have been receiving worrisome news about Marcus, our cohost on the First Issue video series. He had been hospitalized for several days with internal bleeding, and yesterday, he learned that he had colon cancer.
This is dreadful news that nobody wants to hear, but it’s made all the more dreadful by the fact that he’s unreasonably young for this sort of thing. As in, he’s about a decade younger than me, still in his 20′s. Understandably, he’s a bit freaked out by it. We all are.
The good news is that his prognosis is good: at last update, it looked like the cancer had not spread into his liver or lungs. There were a couple odd spots that the doctors could not yet identify, but if they’re not cancerous, he won’t need chemotherapy. It also sounds like the tumor will be relatively easy to remove. From what I hear, colon cancer is highly treatable if found early, so it sounds like he may have hit the more pleasant end of the unfortunate cancer lottery.
At last update, it sounded like he’d be going into surgery this morning or afternoon. We are all hoping for the best.
If you would like to send him your well-wishes, you may post them here, and I’ll forward them on. Alternately, you can send a get well card to Fes’ PO box, and we will route them to Marcus:
A view from the balcony of the beautiful Virginia Theatre.
Day 2 was slightly wonky. This was planned to be the Day of Patton Oswalt, as he had been scheduled to do a Q&A after the screening of Big Fan, and then he was going to present Kind Hearts and Coronets at the close of the night. Sadly, Oswalt’s was detained in New York when his current film had to reschedule a shooting day due to rain. Big Fan was to be Oswalt-less, and Kind Hearts and Coronets was cancelled altogether. Attendees were disappointed, but I don’t think anyone was as disappointed as Patton Oswalt himself.
As mentioned in previous posts, I am currently at Ebertfest in Champaign, Illinois.
Ebertfest is a fine little event that I first visited two years ago. Roger Ebert gathers a schedule of 12 films, a mixture of new and old, which he considers to be overlooked by the public. Many films are newer foreign releases that probably didn’t get a release in America’s heartland; there is usually at least one documentary that focuses upon Chicago; often something that was forgotten in the 1980′s shows up. These films are all screened at the Virginia Theatre in the heart of Champaign: a gorgeous, huge, balconied, lovingly-restored movie palace from a bygone era. Most films are capped by a Q&A from the filmmakers (or, in the case of documentaries, the subjects often turn up).
Ebertfest is a low-octane event compared to the other film festivals I do. The schedule is a relaxing three-films-per-day, in comparison to the 5-6 per day pace of Fantastic Fest or the punishing 24-hours-of-solid-film pace of Butt-Numb-a-Thon and B-Fest. While Champaign is a college town full of tasty little restaurants and brick-street charm, it certainly has a slower pace of life than Chicago or Austin or even Minneapolis. I missed attending Ebertfest last year, and I really missed its easy charm.
Another aspect that I missed is that, for the most part, 100% of Ebertfest films are at least good, if not great. With many other film festivals, you wind up seeing a lot of new stuff, and not all of it hits the mark. (Or, in the case of B-Fest, 100% of everything you see is awesomely terrible.) Ebertfest films are hand-picked by Mr. Ebert, and the man sure knows movies.