Thumbs Up: WILL Looks At Ebertfest
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OK from Illinois Public Media this is thumbs up to W I L L looks at Ebert Fest. Twenty fifteen
. Welcome to the seventeenth Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival .
We have to give a golden thumb to you.
We’re in the middle of the seventeenth in your Roger Ebert Film Festival. Ebert fest. It’s that time of year when Champaign Urbana plays host to film critics directors producers Stars fans and many more as we celebrate films of every different genre . This hour we’re going to explore this year’s Ebert Fest. We’ll talk to some of the special guests. Visit some of the events. Fund out what it takes to run the festival and more. But first .
Welcome to the seventeenth Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival .
This morning I took a walk walked over to the Virginia theater so I could visit Roger’s sculpture and I asked him to be with us this weekend and let his spirit what he created seventeen years ago to continue Wednesday night the opening at the seventeenth Annual Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival.
Just It’s that time of year when Champaign Urbana plays host to film critics directors producers stars and more. As we celebrate films of every different genre from the opening picture an experimental French film The festival’s first ever three D. picture to an upcoming Jason Segel release to a silent film Son of the sheikh diversity is a given. I’m Amanda Haneke forte and this is thumbs up.
W I L L takes a look at Ebert fest twenty fifteen this hour we’re going to explore this year’s eve fest. We’ll talk to some of the special guests visit some of the events and take a look at the newly announced Ebert center in the University of Illinois College of media. We’re going to start with one of Saturday’s pictures. Ninety nine homes ninety nine homes tells the story of a young contractor played by Andrew Garfield of Spider-Man fame who was hit hard by two Thousands of an economic downturn. His family is affected from their home and in an attempt to provide for his family. He begins working for the very person who affected him. Noah Lomax plays his son Connor Lomax will be in town for the film’s Q. and A session alongside his director Hiebert fest regulars Romain Browny Lomax and I started with how he got into acting.
Me my family or at the mall and we thought of thing when we thought you could just sign up and then if people from like Disney shows and stuff and fill my sister she signed up and then we found out what it was and they got her situated with an agent stuff and then they asked me if I wanted to try and I did so.
Yeah what is it about acting that appeals to you.
What I love it I love getting to be a different person every time I book a role or have an audition and I also love getting to be behind the scene and getting to see how they make the movies and when I get older I may want to be like a doctor because I just love making videos on my phone and stuff so yes.
So yeah it’s kind of hard to say it to an answer but yeah you know you are you looking at all the different aspects you don’t know you know you you’re not sure yet if you want to continue in acting or you know I definitely want to continue but when I get older I mean I want to do something else.
OK So tell me about playing Qana in and you know I really love the character because it was just something different than all the other movies that all the other movies it’s really just the son of one of their parents that has been through a lot. I guess I’ve been divorced in this one as it’s a whole different character a whole different story. So it’s pretty fun to get to film it with Andrew and Maura was there you know a scene or something that really stood out to you I mean the action scene was really it was kind of him aiming really realize how fortunate I am to you cannot be evicted from my home and because seeing it I get to see how other people have to go through things like that and it must be really hard.
You’re talking a lot about seeing how it worked for other people and people went through a lot of preparation.
When I first got it remains sent me a bunch of website to look at so I could watch the sixty minute videos of people living in motels after they’ve gotten the gig and how they get evicted and kids putting motels so yeah I had lots of preparation was this story of any of the kids that you really latched on to when you were figuring out who Connor was actually two years ago so I can’t really remember but there’s all most of them are just one of the people ask when the kids if they could have one wish and he said I wish I could redo my life.
Then that just really stuck with me.
So it means been here to fast in Champaign Urbana before you know I don’t think you have is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to any expectations about what it’s going to be like whoa.
Never been like you said and I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Congo and my favorite hockey team plays.
I’ve always wanted to go but I’ve been to Toronto Film Festival so I know it’s like the complex roles are like but I’m not sure if this one different or similar so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it’s going to go .
Yeah we’re very different. More about watching then . So I understand that that when you were auditioning for ninety nine homes it end up involving a lot of improvisation and some of that made it into the film.
Yeah well when auditioning I mean really just I went in and I was ready I would have gone on memorized and I didn’t really that was really useful because we didn’t really have to go over the line he just told me about the scene. We did improv like an hour we were in there for a really long time and you had really great chemistry. It was just really garden in the film there wasn’t much you know really sticks of mind goes lots of improv which I really love. So.
How does improv differ to the more structured already written out scenes to you in the way you do things.
I feel like it’s more real and it’s more natural because it’s like a real conversation rather than having to memorize lines for conversation.
You mentioned earlier your sister does this too. You worked with her when you were on Walking Dead . What was that like.
It was really fun to work with my sister for the first time it was just me and her had a great time. But that was the only time we’ve ever worked together. And she actually doesn’t do acting anymore. But it was really fun working with her on them because it was just like real chemistry just me and her cool.
What about being on a walking dead in general you know especially considering how big that show has gotten.
Well I don’t really think of it like koalas on The Walking Dead but it has gotten pretty big and it’s pretty cool that I can say that I’ve been on it but it was just three episodes.
You know the first feeling in me my sister really Rushmore So yeah you know very often your roles you’re working with other actors who are playing your parents and that’s a really close relationship to portray how do you develop a reporter with them before you start filming you know and you don’t have a lot of time to get to know them.
I mean Andrew in a war we actually spent all the time we could together we went out to dinner. Andrew and I actually went to more a lot more time than I expected and that really helped. So it was they just came across as a real family because they really did feel like family.
Theory call any other projects on the way.
I just on the pilot for a new T.V. show called Heart matters.
Oh fun I look forward to seeing more about that as it gets closer . I’d imagine it’s probably kind of hard to balance work and school and everything else.
Do you find that difficult difficult even though I’m home schooled. We don’t have a lot of time because like pilot season we don’t have to go to auditions and have to go over Los Angeles and it’s kind of hard to keep up with school even on the weekends because it’s just but we end up getting there only if it ends up good.
That was Noel though Max he plays Conor Nash in ninety nine homes directed by Amien Bahraini Nomex stars alongside Andrew Garfield LIDAR and Michael Shannon ninety nine homes will be shown on Saturday at nine pm We are now going to take a broader look at the festival as a whole. With Michael Phillips film critic for The Chicago Tribune any but fast regularly.
We started by talking about what he’s most looking forward to seeing at this year’s line up of always eager to see whatever the silent film feature is going to be because I always end up on the panel. I love seeing work really really get screened properly on a big screen with a thousand people many of whom we’re seeing for the first time this year is going to be sort of the feet which is a rather unusual sequel of the day. Riddle failed to add a huge hit nineteen twenty one with this week one of his most famous roles since. The long awaited sequel and it’s if you’ve never heard the Alloy Orchestra play an astonishing variety of instruments it’s just great company a silent film which is really it’s like the fourth dimensions explained in the end this is this is how silent films are meant to be experienced. So I love that I’m really eager to see the end of the tour which I have not seen the biopic on. David Foster Wallace who is played by Jason Segel who’s coming to town so that’s you know there’s a lot it’s a lot to look forward to and I think a lot of people can be fun to see Chaz Palminteri come through with A Bronx Tale and just got to hear what it’s like to work with an arrow and you know what he thinks of champagne or because it seems interesting to have a film like the end of the toy on the schedule that hasn’t had a chance to make many days yet it seems like a lot of the films that are shiny but faster ones that people have had the chance to see but maybe haven’t gotten around to before I guess what I think I think we’re going to find. Just continues. Audiences will find it a stimulating combination of what your talking about your films that have already received a lot of attention on the festival circuit but have not entered the commercial run in the theaters or on Vo D. That’s one group of film and then there’s another group of films or films that have been out maybe just a year or so old like wild tales that you know find an audience and in the case of the film the one of the foreign language Oscar this year from Poland which is terrific . Let’s kill the follicle really and sort of audience internationally so wild tales and even you know about a year old. Then you get films like A Bronx Tale which has been around several years but maybe it’s just a matter of aligning the right people to respond with care is available. The producer John Killick I think is a good friend of protest and his excellent taste for producer you can talk to a lot of different issues and then you get stuff like some of the sheikh from the silent era. I think as we were fast moves into the future you’re going to see that it’s really just kind of electing a lot of what Roger believed in when he was alive which is champion of the small films that nobody knows. Championed the small films that people might know the title and maybe the film did get a limited release but it didn’t quite get the love it deserved and then simply take a chance on.
A piece of cinema that maybe years and decades and decades old fourth concert and do you see him present Gonzo festival I.Q. test as opposed to like a traditional distribution based festival extend and say the pros are our allegiance is such a pleasure and a relief after wrangling with a big rangy overwhelming slate you’ll find it something like Sundance or can just kind of go to a much tighter more tightly curated and frightening festive smaller festival if you protest that really doesn’t require any difficult decisions of the movie or which one of my going to go to well you can go to a mall here. There’s not much like three screens three or four or five will be screaming up against each other and it’s unapologetically a reflection of what used to be one. Critics really interesting and engaging case now it’s the reflection of a small group of Roger’s closest colleagues and what they feel is worth championing and a lot of it is filmmaker driven you know remain baronies coming back would not be like Holmes he’s a friend of the festival it was a personal part of Rogers and you know that’s that’s a Phillips who done well on the festival circuit from Venice forward the signs in the compactness in the user friendliness of your test is not necessarily unique in the film festival world but it’s never been bettered I think.
Do you have a favorite story from New Year’s Eve exist.
I’ve just had and I’ve never had better conversations with moviegoers ever the audiences are so sharp and enthusiastic and well schooled in this really happy to talk movies with you. It’s it’s really something else and that’s a real testament to the kind of films or Roger fostered I think obviously is you know it’s up to ten thousand tons of media but is there something that there hasn’t been DB access that you really hope to get screened . Well there’s a film and I have my piece of the for next year’s a route is pretty harsh but American International called Heaven knows what that I saw Toronto last year that is a really startling portrait of junkies in New York you know it’s kind of a weird hybrid of documentary and narrative feature in that the people on screen are in fact recover or recovering junkies playing variations of themselves and it’s a really intense experience and it’s something else. Yeah I mean that’s a kind of film I would love to see there next year. They sound like something that would set it right but I mean do you know you look at the list here and you get some stuff that’s good by the language which is going to open the festivals typical for a look at ours a really really challenging linear narrative essay and anyone go in there expecting a straightforward story is going to be clean all the run you know but it’s a pretty stimulating and visually fantastic experience of seeing the film twice and I don’t even pretend to parse it any more clearly the second time but this is what we’re championing so it’s safe to say that you’ve watched a lot of movies in your opinion what is the best conditions in which to watch a movie. Well I’ll tell you the origine theater is right up there. I love seeing movies with a big possessed a crowd of a thousand or so ho I love seeing movies on thirty five stills often as possible not everything is you know being short of thirty five. Obviously digitals clearly won that battle but I love a big screen. I really love it when you get a good print out of a movie. New or old that well project with a really good receptive audience and then you get a good discussion going afterwards I mean that’s this is
covered. Haven’t you developed any rituals.
That’s when you’re going into business you know I always try to check my teeth before going on stage to to do a discussion there’s a lot of popcorn in my life you know I love coming back and staying at the Student Union and it’s kind of a great little hotels set up they have within the student union and you know I’ve only had the steak and shake on my own.
I’ve never really done a group thing at the Steak N Shake but it’s a wonderful place to meet people I loved meeting Allie Eric from Istanbul. Those who travelled from him and I met you were just a few years ago and it was just such fun he was one of Roger’s our foreign correspondents and a really interesting critic in a lot of ways I am thrilled that he could find somebody in Illinois in the heartland of America who is crazy about the Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge A.J. a lot as I was and. Then Rogers first of all was the reason we got together and that’s what that festivals about meeting new friends and meeting up with old friends and it all sounds like a bunch of hooey and promotional nonsense but it’s really true that I think people use the protest to restore their film going experience.
So this year teddy bear in the eye and new film department right which you are very involved in. Yeah how did you become involved in playing in the basin.
I talked to Jim Slater to Charles an apartment Cohen who ministers the Peabody’s among other things but has also been intimately involved with getting dressed up and running every year and we came up with this idea of having a couple of Roger Ebert fellows scholarships for undergraduates who are interested in writing about film writing about arse intertainment and culture and all kinds of things and they realized that it would really be best if they had sort of a mentor or advisor working them through the year and trying to get them to think and write more perceptively about what it means to cover this stuff and also not just for print alive or maybe for radio and television in the U.I. journalism program as it seems to me is great. You’re also a whole lot of other places a lot of the growers already Lou I think it’s going to be great for you to bring the experiment but I work with students of all ages various writing workshops teaching situations and I love it as I get more out of it that they do. It’s just wonderful to think about why this piece works of this piece doesn’t and this is what we’re going to do we’re going to figure these things out together.
That was Michael Phillips film critic for The Chicago Tribune. We want to spend a bit more time looking at the Senate that was announced earlier this week as part of the bridge fest one of the panels discuss the plans and ideas for the forthcoming film school within the College of media. Full disclosure W.Y.L.L. is part of the College of media Chadsey Bart sat on the panel and started by talking about how she hopes the center will increase the number of women in film and in the engineering work needed to develop some technologies or not.
How’s your storyteller. And to encourage you and your mom just like. Me you know.
Oh yeah. Me writing.
Having women as just I was there and now I am so I think that relations are in the high life and I don’t like my sales were low words like so it was for.
The ears. Much of the panel focused on how the Brits and I would be different than already existing schools. Not only will the Brits and I keep inspiring its students as part of its mission it will be a place where the Arts and Sciences meet and where the technology needed to tell stories in a different way will be created.
Jason Brett film producer and University of Illinois graduate some that idea the way you are using your time the way I read it and Excel Oh sure it is all over me. Inspiration is you know all of these words . Well over three hours later parsers or you know you are already sure of what we did so sure there are all yours. For now. You. Are curious to know. Every day we are seeing errors.
So for . Me it was all that was Jason Brett film producer and University of Illinois graduate.
We have more on what not to miss what it takes to put the word fest to gether and a look back at Comedy King Harold Ramus plus more. But first we need to take a break because it’s pledge week it won’t be long. Stay with us. So since you’re listening to the online version and not be on air you’re missing the eight or so minutes of pledge . But there should be a donate now button at the top of the page if you’re interested. Thanks. Back to the show. Welcome back. We’re taking a deep dive into event fest today and right now we have another look at. Some of the highlights of this year’s festival. I just spoke with film critic and movie.
Now earlier in the week they started by comparing uber excess to other larger distribution deal focused festivals I have been to Sundance but net case I was actually listed as a filmmaker because I was in a movie I was in a documentary about the financial meltdown which was one of my specialties as a lawyer. They couldn’t be more different they’re completely different in every way. Sundance is movies that are hoping for distribution and Rogers festival which you used to call the Overlooked Film Festival is primarily films that have already been released and that deserve a further look and greater appreciation and that’s one of the things that I really love about this festival I’ve discovered some wonderful films that way that I had never had a chance to see I’m looking forward to doing that again this year and I’m looking forward to helping people meet some film like that that they may have missed because they didn’t play in their towns and the other big difference is that in most film festivals so most of us films once was you’re just of this tremendous pressure as a filmmaker to find a distributor and you’re competing and that’s not the case. Aber Festen So that gives it a completely different sort of chemistry there is such a unity. Purpose an experience. Ebert fest that it creates an immediate sense of community for just those four days every year all of a sudden there is a town called Ybor fest and everyone who lives in that town is a neighbor of everyone else who lives in that town and we go to films together and we sit together and we eat together and we share this incredibly privileged experience and that’s something that I really cherish about a protest . I’m wondering how you first got involved how you first became friends with Roger Ebert I grew up in Chicago and the northern suburb I lived in going and I began reading Roger when I was a teenager and he started writing. Move your view through Chicago Sun time and my mother who is trying to get me to pay more attention to what was going on in the world put the newspaper in my hand that she said I know you’re going to like this he’s only a few years older than you are and he’s writing reviews of movies and I was in love with the movies and I was just thrilled by the idea that this new young critic had started writing and then when he and Gene started doing their T.V. show back when I was a local show in Chicago I started watching it and I remember how exciting it was to hear these passionate conversations about movies and not just about movies that were in the theater but this is before the multiplex era but the equivalent of the suburban multiplex. But independent films I still remember them talking about independent films and international films that really expanded my view of what was possible to see and what it was possible to aspire to as a film. So I was always a great fan of Rodgers and then several years ago Roger reach out to me and said we are going to be presenting a family film on Saturday morning at the festival we’d like you cannot prevent it. So I immediately said well that’s a great film it’s just not a very good film for families. But he handled that very well and he said well will will put an advisory and me right up. Parents know what they’re getting into and that was my first time coming to the festival and I had a wonderful wonderful time.
OK I have to ask what movie was that it was the fall.
Oh do you have a favorite story from your time now you’ve gone a few times and you know gotten the maybe beat some filmmakers and actors etc You have the most with before.
My my favorite experiences and eat breakfast three times and gone are the people that I’ve met particularly the far flung ers and the demanders Rogers coterie of curated aspiring critics. Every one of them has been just so bright and so knowledgeable and wonderful and and I’ve you know stayed friends with them on Facebook people from all over the world and that’s been my favorite thing are these wonderful friendships.
As you mentioned a lodger forand I want you to introduce a film that you didn’t think that your family friendly so it’s awesome talk about your your role as the movie mom that you review everything I do.
Well you know I’ve raised kids and I can tell you that the hard part is not so much figuring out which of the G. and P.G. rated films are appropriate for kids. It’s when your kids get to middle school and high school and they’re not they’re not going with their parents they are going with their friends where you really need some guidance and when I say that I give parental guidance I’m not kidding because a lot of people tell me that they read my reviews so that they can know what’s appropriate to take their parents to think it’s interesting that the end of the tour is it festers a movie that was to see that a very excited it’s a real departure. They win their first three D. film of their first pre-release film and that is a great tribute to Roger into Chaz and Nate and Mary Susan and what they’ve been able to create other movies obviously Chaz and other people here at the College of media have the final say but other movies you would still hope to see in future he resists. I would never I would sure of course but I I don’t think I could possibly do better than they’ve done I like the way that they have certain traditions they always have the fountain with the Alloy Orchestra. I’m very excited to see some of the chic this year I have never seen it and to see it with the live music is going to be just a stunning experience. And they also Roman Bernie was a great find of Rodgers and it’s wonderful that he’ll be there again this year and the kitty welcomes us. We’d love to go to Steak N Shake.
What excites you the most about the industry today or maybe what irks you .
Well you know one thing Roger and I disagreed on was three D. He was not a fan of three day and I like three D. and I thought I was very very pleased to say that we are opening up with a three D. movie. Certainly very extraordinary one this year and I think what I am most excited about that’s going on in film right now is that. Much anybody can make a movie whether it’s through Kickstarter or go pro or distribution through video on demand. The democratization of film is following the democratization of journalism. That means you’re going to have a lot of bad stuff out there but we already had a lot of bad stuff so there were a lot of bad movies being made. But what this does is it opens up the opportunity to anybody to make a good movie and we’re going to see some extraordinary things I love which of course Leavitt is doing with his project he’s got it a new one right now where you get people to make little videos of some place in their hometown that people from outside the town don’t know about and it is extraordinary to sit and watch that. So I really really love that. And so is as big a fan as I am of the bombast and the big budget films and I loved the galaxy as much as I love the fact that we can now make superhero movies and there is no limit to what you can do in terms of creating av guard or you know special effects or blowing up whatever you want to blow up . I love the fact even more that technology has made it possible for for movie making capacity to be in the hands of anybody who’s passionate about telling a story.
And movie no Mina you know can be found on her movie mom website and on Roger Ebert dot com We’ve talked a lot about what is happening this week and what has already happened. One such event is a tribute to Harold Ramus who died in two thousand and fourteen. Amos was the creative force behind movies such as Groundhog Day Animal House and many many more chairs Ybor told Wednesday’s opening night audience that she and her husband the late critic Roger Ebert loved watching Caddyshack over the years during the tribute. She and film producer Trevor Albert reflected back thirty five years to when he and Ramos first worked together. Caddyshack was Rames his directorial debut in the first film role for comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
I have to say when I was twenty one years old working on that movie if anyone would ever have said all these years later that Roger and I love that movie you know two intelligent people I would have thought they were out of their minds. So it’s just you know speaks to the you know unpredictability of movies and how things are going to last.
In fact Roger was actually going to start a movement to get I don’t get no respect. Oh Rodney Dangerfield inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences because you know rightly what we would see him sometimes and he would say you know made so many movies I don’t know.
I respect you know the Academy they will they look at some of these people they put on and their and their community and they won’t make them billions of dollars and I don’t just don’t get no respect.
And Roger said we really should Rodney Dangerfield really should be a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences so he could vote for us as well and I will not ever even get an honorary one.
But I don’t the cademy doesn’t have great regard for comedy and that’s sort of been a tradition which sort of continues today and you know I don’t understand it exactly but Ronnie didn’t know he was never in the academy nor did he ever win Academy Award nor is anyone really use those two were.
It’s together. But the older one didn’t have to have one one.
I’m going to say one thing about Rodney Dangerfield and Rodney Dangerfield never been in a movie where he never acted before and this was part of Harold’s thing in the midst of all the insanity he was able to find a center Erica said in his thing he always had his feet on the ground nobody else had their feet on the ground on that movie and Rodney Dangerfield was literally like a cartoon character on the set. I mean he was so over the top and yet Harold in the midst of all this could sort of you know put a hand on running into it let’s do it this way that way and you know and out of the corner of his eye see Bill Murray pushing Chevy Chase in the lake you know it was like but he meant he managed to make everybody feel like they were important that they were heard and bring out the sort of best you know comedy in them and part of it was encouraging the improvisation so that was part of his you know conducting insanity.
I also want to ask Trevor you got a chance to watch his evolution over the years from being an actor and being a writer and being a director and I want to know a little bit of what you observe.
I heard him as he moved from these various roles on the Caddyshack the first day of shooting we were all standing around and actors got their places and the sound persons rolling and everyone looked to Harold to say action and he had no idea he was supposed to say Action. So he says he jokingly says it was seven million dollar film school cat Isha. He literally learned how to make a movie and that’s extraordinary because having been around the process of making movies it’s terrifying you have one hundred fifty people waiting in the of the studio. So the fact that Harold was confident enough that he could be put in that position and not really be intimidated by it I mean he was like game he felt like he could handle it he could master this thing and so the evolution was took in no time at all to figure out the technical stuff which wasn’t that hard and I think the evolution was just trying to find what he was interested in what stories he was interested in telling and still making them entertaining. You know Animal House was broad but. It was you know sort of about class. You know there was a and as was Caddy Shack as absurd as Kerry was I think Harold and Doug and Brian would all say yeah it was about the struggle we were poor kids and we were you know in this environment where the rich kids were at the Country Club and we were getting them you know their coffee and so all his Even his early stuff although you look at it and say oh it’s just you know good fun there was something that he was trying to say and I think that developed as as the years went on.
That’s producer Trevor Albert talking about Harold Raman says legacy as a filmmaker remains his widow Erica Ramus told the audience about how her husband always strived to be happy even in the most difficult situations in work in family life in friendship.
He was curious. He loved words. He loved evolution he loved the evolution of ideas and spirit. And he used to say that his body was just hanging around to hold his brain and I think he really meant that.
That was Erika Ramos the widow of Comedy King Harold Ramus . Another big event was the packed screening of the end of the tour. The film is based on a book by a journalist who covered a few days at the end of David Foster Wallace his book tour for the Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace is a champagne Urbana native during the Q. and A afterward Jason Segel talked about why he wanted to play Wallace a departure from many of the roles he’s played before.
I think the goal of all kind of art endeavor is honesty. And so I look back the first thing that I ever really wrote was Forgetting Sarah Marshall and that’s a comedy but. Now I was as honest as I knew how to be at the time I felt like I felt like that guy.
And so I think that I reckon as a James recognize that there is there is so much humor in David Foster Wallace is writing that I really related to but what I really related to more than anything when I read Infinite Jest I relate it really hard to this idea that pleasure and achievement and entertainment are not going to satisfy this other feeling you have of not being enough. And I had just finished a T.V. show and doing a ton of interesting things and writing movies and none of it I really related because none of it scratched this other feeling of something is missing. And when I read Infinite Jest I felt like.
I really understood it for what it meant to me and so I didn’t feel scared to do the movie because I felt like wow.
I just really felt like he is a surrogate for this thing that sometimes we don’t acknowledge that we all feel like wait isn’t there supposed to be more than this.
James Ponsoldt the director visited Hiebert Fest two years ago with the Spectacular Now. He talked about how the project started. A friend of his contacted her about the script.
Ponsoldt a great admirer of Wallace’s work was a bit nervous to read the script and I had a feeling in my gut that it might be might be good and when I read it it just moved me to my core because it didn’t try to be anything more than what David which this book is which the best parts of it are Wallace’s voice at that time point in his life. Wallace was thirty four he was thirty. Jason as it happens with thirty four Jesse Eisenberg was thirty Jesse. David let’s get that one I think was really obsessed with maybe being the smartest guy in the room he certainly felt insecure around WALLACE And that book I think is someone in their mid forty’s looking back and wishing they could have done it differently.
Though Wallace taught at Illinois State University in Bloomington normal and part of the film took place there they were unable to film in Illinois I went to Bloomington normal I went.
You know I had some very kind folks are actually going down the credit to show me where I work showed me where he lived. She pointed you know showed me where all that the film itself was not shot there for a really dumb film reasons having to do with tax incentives. We shot I’m sorry in Michigan.
Those were excerpts from the Q. and A with actor Jason Segel and director James Ponsoldt after the screening of the end of the tour. Ybor fest is a celebration of film the celebration that takes a lot of preparation and behind the scenes work to come off smoothly. The woman running much of that for the past fourteen years has been associate director Mary Susan Britt She’s been with the film festival since its fourth year back in two thousand and one. This year however is her last breath and her family are moving to Louisiana in June when Jeff Foster caught up with her. She reflected on how she first came to the University of Illinois and what it was like to work with Roger Ebert.
We need hear from Vicksburg Mississippi and it was November two thousand and I remember the day we moved into our house it was snowing and it didn’t stop and it stayed zero degrees for at least thirty days and so we ended each year and I just remember telling my husband I just want to work for the University of Illinois and so we saw the ad in the paper for. It was college of communications at the time and talked a lot about Roger Ebert’s film festival and some other things that went along with the job and I said oh I’ve never done a film festival and he said why don’t you apply you never know.
And then look now fourteen years later and so did it sink in at the time what it will be like that you will be working with the Pulitzer Prize winning film critic an icon of the hero in this town right at the time I just thought wow that would be said of me are cool to work with Roger and it just really didn’t sink in until a little bit later when I actually met again and started working with a new kind of day in and day out. So it was just fantastic. You remember your first conversation with you know I just remember I met him two days after I started on the job and him and it was just like he was just like welcome aboard Mary says.
Were you nervous that written Roger if you sense that should ease right away.
Oh I mean I was oh yes I was nervous I never forget I put on whatever my best suit or whatever I had that day you know and I was I guess very nervous and if I get my neighbor she stopped by to bring this up that morning and she was cashier also dressed up what do you know so I mean Roger even today she said .
So that was fantastic but now he could be at ease right away of course you know he’s just that type he just was always like that so yeah absolutely.
American ask you a quick story or two I mean I know that he introduced you to Steak N Shake you remember the first time you went there or were right because you know we had moved here and I don’t know why we had not gone to Steak and Shake.
I don’t know why but anyway and so I actually went the first time during a professor Roger how they do make that pilgrimage over there after you know the screens at midnight and so that was the first time that I say Roger Roger was a first on it it means they can check if you have a favorite screening you’ve been what fourteen years of this do you remember I mean maybe one with the Q. and A afterwards it really stands out maybe the audience was surprised in the audience really got in there asking questions of the committee or a couple that stand out to you.
Gosh that’s like asking me my gosh I don’t know I just I was talking about this the other day and I don’t know what it was but I just remember two thousand and six just that whole festival in that year it was just so wonderful and magical and every year is that somehow that year stands out in my mind and I know that you know I talk about this because that year he came with the Navy some bodies that just seemed like everything was just you know everything was on fire as in he was like you know just I can’t explain it it was just it just seemed like a great year but every year it’s a great year so I can’t you know you have any special stories with interacting with a particular actor director or somebody like that because that’s when I when you mentioned earlier I thought maybe it was one of the gifts later.
Yeah I don’t know I just think the film and it was great that you’re but every year it’s great so I just it’s so hard that I wish I could think of the top of my head. I think about you know all the wonderful guests that have been here and how wonderful and of course we all know Tilda Swinton and all the you know lovely then she says on stage and you know she’s so brilliant articulate and so just how she talks about Roger and you know what a wonderful man he was I mean it’s just you know that stands out in my mind especially with the kind of dance along thing we did you know in memory of Roger and all that that year so it was fantastic.
So what are you going to miss most about being here.
Yeah I don’t know I’m just going to miss a community and you know just the entire you know everything that goes into the festival and I tell people this all the time it’s just a community has been so great and the campus community and just you know working with everybody pulling this thing together every years just it’s just hard to pinpoint one thing but it’s just everybody comes together for this festival and we would not have it without the community for sure.
Tell me what you’re going to be doing. You’re going to Louisiana.
So yeah we’re going to move to Shreveport Louisiana and I actually my husband is working in Natchitoches Louisiana. And so it’s a small town and so we’re going to move about an hour south or north of there but and I don’t know what I’m going to be doing and so it’s just as if you researched any southern film for us that you might be able to attend or maybe hope I’ll work. Yeah you know I did I look to do that I think there’s a big kind of production community there and so I did I have looked into that a little bit and there Louisiana film office which is equivalent to our Illinois film office that a lot of in these had been made there and so and so yeah I am going to look into that a little bit but I’m just not sure what I want to do it for has a pretty nice one. It’s going after Mississippi most definitely does they got James Franco this year they’re so absolutely so they do they have a wonderful wonderful festival on a lovely thing going on there you know try to come back for a request for your time and the people think you’ve never lived.
Right now Chad you know what that other you know I was moving she said OK I want you to come back in twenty sixteen and just come back as a V.I.P. and sit back and enjoy the festival and not have to plan it so yeah I mean I’m sure I’ll come back for sure.
That was Mary Susan Brett the associate director of breakfast for the past fourteen years. This year she’s saying goodbye and it’s time for us to say goodbye now to if you’re not ready yet you can find more pictures audio and notes on our Web site at will News dot org You have been listening to thumbs up W.Y.L.L. looks at first twenty fifteen A W I love production we hope you have enjoyed our look at the breakfast this show is produced by Jeff Buster to myself and Amanda hunted for it. Thank you for listening.
The 17th Annual Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival – Ebertfest opened on Wednesday. It’s that time of year when Champaign-Urbana plays host to film critics, directors, producers, stars, fans and more as we celebrate films of every different genre.
Like every year, this year’s line-up features a wide diversity. A silent film (The Son of The Sheik), a forthcoming release starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour), and an experimental French film that is also Ebertfest’s first 3D offering (Goodbye To Language).
This year Ebertfest is welcoming back Ramin Bahrani with his newest film, 99 Homes. 99 Homes tells the story of a young contractor – played by Andrew Garfield of Spiderman fame – who is hit hard by 2007’s economic downturn. His family is evicted from their home and, in an attempt to provide for his family, he begins working for the very person who evicted him. Noah Lomax plays his son, Connor.
“All the other movies I’m just the son of one of the parents who’s been through a lot…but in this one it’s a whole different character, a whole different story…It made me realize how fortunate I am to not have been evicted from my house,” said Lomax.
“It’s really just kind of reflecting what Roger believed when he was alive. Champion the small films that nobody knows, champion the small films that people may know title and that maybe it got a limited release but it didn’t get the love it deserved, and then champion a piece of cinema that may be years and decades and decades old but is worth recognition,” said Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips.
A film that has been given a lot of attention at this year’s Ebertfest is James Ponsoldt’s The End Of The Tour. The film stars Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace (a Champaign-Urbana native and Uni High graduate). It tells the story of the last leg of Wallace’s book tour for The Infinite Jest through the eyes of a Rolling Stone reporter, David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Segel visited the festival with Ponsoldt and talked about portraying Wallace after the film.
“I had access to the recordings, to Lipsky’s recordings, so I got to experience what the tone of the conversations were like and I think that - that’s the real heartbreak that was captured in the movie. I think for a minute…David Foster Wallace felt like this might be a friend,” said Segel.
“'This is someone who is smart and interesting, knows about the same stuff I do and we’re having a good time on this trip.' Then all of the sudden there’s this real sucker-punch that happens and I think it felt like a real betrayal,” he continued.
Director James Ponsoldt began working on the project when a past theater teacher, who knew Ponsoldt admired Wallace’s work, sent him the script to read. “When I read [the script] it moved me to my core,” said Ponsoldt. “It didn’t try to be anything the book wasn’t.”
“David Lipsky at that point, I think, was really obsessed with maybe being be the smartest guy in the room. He certainly felt insecure around Wallace, and the book, I think, is someone in his mid-forties looking back and wishing they could have done it differently and maybe listening to the guy across the table from him saying if you worship the god of your own intellect you are going to be left alone,” said Ponsoldt.
Filming naturally had many challenges, including filming the end sequence on the second day, but one challenge is particularly memorable for Segel. Wallace had two incredibly friendly dogs, but the movie dogs, however, needed a bit more encouragement to capture the right level of friendliness. Segel said one of the challenges “was that I had to do really serious acting with Salmon in my pants!”
“And Jesse [Eisenberg] had Salmon on his neck.” Ponsolt added.
99 Homes and The End of the Tour are just two of the pieces covered in our special, and just two of the many highlights of Ebertfest.
“I’ll tell you, the pros [to a festival like Ebertfest verses a big distribution based festival] are legion,” said Phillips. “It’s such a pleasure and relief after wrangling with a big rangy, overwhelming slate you’ll find at something like Sundance or Cannes…The size and the compactness and the user friendliness is certainly not unique but it’s never been bettered, I think.”
“For just those four days every year all of the sudden there is a town called Ebertfest and everyone who lives in that town is a neighbor of everyone else who lives in that town. And we go to films together, and we sit together, and we eat together and we share this incredibly privileged experience,” said film critic Nell Minow.
Want to hear more from Ponsoldt & Segel? Ebertfest taped the Q&A.