As we embark on 2023, I’d like to take a moment to look back at 2022. In January, we returned to the Sundance Film Festival, publishing dispatches from our editors Brian Tallerico and Nick Allen as well as our contributors Marya Gates, Robert Daniels and Isaac Feldberg. In February, Barbara Scharres brought us highlights from the Rotterdam International Film Festival, while our annual Women Writers Week was held in March, showcasing the essential work of so many brilliant female writers.
We honored the anniversary of my late husband Roger’s passing on April 4th, 2013, by sharing some of our contributors’ favorite reviews penned by Roger. At the end of April, we held our latest installment of Ebertfest at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois—our first since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We were graced with singing by Tammy McCann and the band Ther’Up.Y, fronted by Aplustrodamus (Aaron Wilson. Some of our special film guests included directors Ramin Bahrani and Terry Zwigoff, actors Thora Birch and Krisha Fairchild, and many others. In his coverage, Matt Fagerholm said coming back together with this special in-person edition of Ebertfest was nothing less than “a tonic for the soul.”
In May, I returned to the Cannes Film Festival along with Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works, where we produced a series of video dispatches featuring our contributors Ben Kenigsberg, Jason Gorber and Lisa Nesselson. Our second Black Writers Week was held in June with guest editors Robert Daniels, Danielle Scruggs and Black Harvest Film Festival co-founder Sergio Mims, who passed away in October at the age of 67.
I was pleased to wish the trailblazing TV legend and former Ebertfest guest Norman Lear a happy 100th birthday on July 27th. Our contributors gathered in August to celebrate the eleven years’ worth of essential reviews penned by our contributing film critic Odie Henderson, who was subsequently hired to become The Boston Globe‘s chief film critic. At the Toronto International Film Festival in September, I presented Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes, whose latest film is “Empire of Light,” with the TIFF Ebert Director Award. Brian Tallerico was joined by Robert Daniels, Marya Gates and Soren Hough to pen this year’s dispatches on awards season hopefuls at the festival.
Chicago’s pioneering art cinema FACETS Multimedia, founded by the late Milos Stehlik, hosted its first Screen Gems Benefit since before the pandemic. I was honored to receive the FACETS Legend Award. The event reached its monetary goal to benefit the Bross Scholarship Fund, which supports under-resourced youth. In October, I was honored to serve on the jury for the New Directors Competition at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival, where I presented the Roger Ebert Award to two directors: first, the Danish director Katrine Brocks for her very moving film “The Great Silence,” about a novitiate nun who has to confront her own lessons in forgiveness before taking her final vows. It shared the Ebert Award with Michael Koch’s Swiss-German co-production, “A Piece of Sky.” This film was chosen as a poignant example of one of Roger’s key principles, Empathy.