Ebertfest Announces Dates for 2020

Read the Press Release:

CHAMPAIGN, ILL – April 17, 2019 —Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as ‘Ebertfest,” announced today that the 22nd Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival will take place April 15-18, 2020 at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL with related talks and panel discussions to be held at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“On behalf of the entire Ebertfest team, we are so excited to be returning to Champaign next April for our 22nd festival,” said Chaz Ebert, co-founder and host of Ebertfest. “Thank you to the Virginia Theatre, the cities of Champaign/Urbana, our sponsors and our amazing audiences who travel near and far to attend our festivities each year. We couldn’t do this festival without their support and we look forward to seeing you all in 2020!”

This year’s festival, which was held April 10-13, 2019, opened with Alan Elliott’s AMAZING GRACE, the highly-anticipated film presenting Aretha Franklin’s live performance at the New Missionary Bethel Baptist Church in Los Angeles in January 1972.  Producers Alan Elliott and Tirrell D. Whittley were in attendance to discuss the film and following the screening, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir performed live on stage at the Virginia Theatre.  Additionally, this year’s lineup featured screenings of ALMOST FAMOUSBOUND, CANE RIVER, CŒUR FIDÈLECOLD WAR, MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISERACHEL GETTING MARRIEDROMY & MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, SIDEWAYS, SEBASTIAN, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? and A YEAR OF THE QUIET SUN.

Chaz Ebert added, “Over the years, Ebertfest has evolved into not only a place to celebrate cinema, but to celebrate the very best in human nature. We give ‘Humanitarian Awards’ to filmmakers who exhibit an unusually compassionate view of the world and this year, we honored Morgan Neville for his film WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? about Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  Additionally, we established the “Icon Award” and the inaugural award given to Rita Coburn for her film honoring icon Maya Angelou.  The academic panels with the Champaign County Alliance for Inclusion and Respect contained in-depth discussions on eradicating stigma of addiction and mental and physical disabilities through the arts. The films chosen, whether domestic or foreign, result in an understanding of other peoples, other cultures, others in circumstances different from our own, with the core principles of empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness being woven into the fabric.”

Showings of AMAZING GRACE, CANE RIVER and MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE were supported by a Diversity in Film award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Showing of THE YEAR OF THE QUIET SUN, including bringing in its star from Poland, was supported by a grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Special guests in attendance in-person and satellite included Directors Rita Coburn, David MirkinMorgan Neville, Sam Fragoso and Stephen Apkon;  Producers Alan Elliott, Tirrell D. Whittley, Sandra Schulberg and Marcina Hale;  Screenwriter Jenny Lumet; Actors Gina Gershon, Maja Komorowska, Virginia Madsen, Tommye Myrick and Jennifer Tilly and additional filmmakers and critics including Sacha Jenkins, Dominique Jenkins, Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker, critics Nick Allen, Matt Fagerholm, Chuck Koplinski, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Michael Phillips, Eric Pierson, Pamela Powell, Carla Renata, Todd Rendleman, Richard Roeper, Whitney Spencer, Brian Tallerico and Matt Zoller Seitz.

Passes for next year’s will go on sale in November this year and will be available for purchase through the festival website, the theater website or the theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063. Updates will be posted on the festival website and also at  Tickets for individual movies will be available in 2020.


Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (EBERTFEST) celebrates all cinema, including films, genres and formats that may have been overlooked by distributors, audiences and/or critics. These include independent, international and studio films that did not win wide audiences; less seen formats such as 70mm; and genres such as documentaries and musical and also includes popular films that deserve another viewing on a big screen, with great sound, in a communal setting. The festival screens one film at a time, so everyone sees the same films at the same time, promoting a strong sense of community among audience members, filmmakers, guests, students and scholars.


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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.

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