2020 Roger Ebert’s Film Festival canceled


Roger Ebert's Film Festival will return in April 2021.

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival will return in April 2021.

Photo by Thomson Reuters

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The 22nd Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert, announced today that the 2020 event has been canceled as a result of concerns about the new coronavirus.

The festival, also known as “Ebertfest,” is already on the schedule for April 14-17, 2021, at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

The University of Illinois announced on Wednesday that all university-sponsored events with more than 50 attendees – which include the film festival – would be suspended indefinitely, effective Friday, March 13.

“I love everything about Ebertfest, as did our co-founder, my late husband Roger,” Chaz Ebert said. “The audience and our filmmakers help make our festival so special and so beautiful that it hurts to cancel it, but we must put concern for health and welfare foremost.”

The Virginia Theatre will help coordinate reimbursements to festival pass holders who can’t make the 2021 event, but organizers said they hoped audience members would hold onto their passes for next year so that the festival can return stronger than ever.

This year’s screenings were to include Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club Encore,” the Farrelly brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary” and Ari Aster’s “Hereditary,” all previously announced.

Sponsored by the U. of I. College of Media and Chaz Ebert, the festival presents celebrated films and other cinematic works overlooked by audiences, critics or distributors.

Roger Ebert was an Urbana native, U. of I. journalism graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times who died in 2013. He co-founded the festival with his wife, Chaz, in 1999.

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