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‘Love And Mercy’ and ‘Grandma’ On Final Slate Of Films At 18th Ebertfest

Paul Dano portraying Brian Wilson

Paul Dano portrays Brian Wilson in the 2015 film "Love and Mercy." Lions Gate Entertainment

Organizers of the 18th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival, slated for April 13-17 at the Virginia Theater in Champaign, have anounced the final slate of six films, including two from 2015 that received critical raves for their performances.  In "Love and Mercy," Paul Dano and John Cusack depict musician Brian Wilson at two stages of his life, and in "Grandma," Lily Tomlin's character reconnects with her granddaughter. 

That film will include a post-screening visit from director Paul Weitz (known for "American Pie" and "About a Boy') and producer Andrew Miano.

"Love and Mercy," sponsored by the Champaign County Alliance for the Promotion of Acceptance, Inclusion, & Respect, shows the famed Beach Boy Wilson's battle with psychosis in the 1960's and 1980's. There are no guests connected to the screening at this time.

For the first time, the festival will include a second silent film, bringing back frequent guest The Alloy Orchestra to accompany the 1924 French sci-fi film "L'Inhumaine." 

"We had not shown a French silent film yet, and the Alloy Orchestra had just put together a new score for this particular film this year," said Festival Director Nate Kohn. He says Ebertfest organizers selected the festival's other silent film, "Body and Soul" --- the 1925 drama by African-American director Oscar B. Micheaux --- after executive producer and host Chaz Ebert saw the film in Chicago, accompanied by Renee Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra and "fell in love with it." 

"Most people are not familar with most of the silent films we show." Kohn said. "There's a small core of people who really love silent film, and know all about them, but most people just prefer be surprised by what they see or what they hear."

The film festival will include a number of movies that had been famed critic and Urbana native Roger Ebert's list to show at the festival, including the 1948 film noir: "The Third Man" with Orson Welles, which is on Ebert's list of his all-time ten great films; Brian De Palma's 1981 thriller 'Blow Out" with John Travolta (with Nancy Allen, who will appear as a guest); the 2003 drama "Northfork" directed by Michal Polish, who will be festival guest; and the 1997 drama "Eve's Bayou," starring Samuel L. Jackson, with director Kasi Lemmons appearing as a guest.

"We've gone back to Roger's list every year, but this year, in particular, we're showing four films that come from that list," Kohn said.

Other titles added to the slate of films include "Disturbing The Peace", a new documentary that tracks a group of former enemy combatants (Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters), who have come together to challenge the status quo, tracing their journey from soldiers committed to armed battle to non-violent peace activists. 

The festival will also screen "Radical Grace," a 2015 portrait of the Catholic group "Nuns on the Bus" that, according to Roger's Matt Fagerholm, comes across like a real-life "Sister Act."