Ebertfest Wrap-Up

Eberfest Golden ThumbWith Eberfest nearly a week behind me, I have finally found the time to finish my blogs about the experience. I had never been to Ebertfest before, despite it only being a two and a half hour drive from me. I can safely say I will be coming back for the foreseeable future. I had never even visited the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana before, so I was going into this experience completely blind. The town itself was fairly small, but the university is so large that it makes the town feel sprawling. It’s not quite suburban feeling, but it’s not quite rural either.

Everyone we met during the fest was incredibly nice. In general, the crowd was older, which was a bit surprising to us. With such a large university a short walk away, we were expecting a college crowd, but it was more of a faculty crowd. I think this led to a more civilized experience, though. We were able to get in, save our seats (something that is thankfully standard practice) and talk to people around us with ease.

The one major downside to the whole week was the weather, unfortunately. In Chicago, we are used to weather that radically changes daily and April weather can be 90 degrees or 40 degrees and both would see normal even if they occurred in the same week. We were met with cold, wind, and rain, unfortunately. Waiting in line outside for over an hour in 50 degree rainy weather is no fun at all.

Watching three movies a day and being in a theater for over 12 hours a day was not nearly as exhausting as it may seem, but I was beat at the end. The only movie we skipped was Terri, which I had already watched…But we skipped it to go see Casablanca down the road on the big screen, so I would say we made the right choice. Luckily, all the Q&A sessions are streaming online, so while we didn’t get to experience it live, we were able to experience it.

If I had to count my regrets, they would be few. I only wish I had been a bit more prepared with food and drink. One can only have so much junk theater food before going crazy, and every day after the 2nd movie was wrapping up around 6 or 6:30, we were ravenously hungry. I also wish I had mingled a bit more, I didn’t physically meet as many people as I would have liked, including some of the other panelists and critics.

The films:

All in all, it was a magnificent experience. It makes me want to try other film festivals, but a part of me knows there was something magical about this one. I will patiently count down the days until next year. Thank you Roger and Chaz, and everyone else involved in making something like this become reality.

And thank you all for reading along with me. I have several other blogs to post to catch up on, including the April recap, so bear with me!