Ebert Film Fest to feature remastered ‘Cotton Club,’ Farrelly brothers comedy


An image from the poster for

“The Cotton Club Encore” will open this year’s Roger Ebert’s Film Festival.

Poster image courtesy Lionsgate

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Francis Ford Coppola’s drama set in Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club during the 1930s – remastered, restored and with added scenes and music – will open the 22nd annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, or “Ebertfest,” coming April 15-18 to Champaign-Urbana.

Closing the festival will be “There’s Something About Mary,” a romantic comedy directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly that featured Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon and Ben Stiller.

The films and related guests were announced by festival co-founder, executive director and host Chaz Ebert.

“The Cotton Club Encore,” starring Richard Gere, Gregory Hines and Diane Lane, will be screened April 15, with screenwriter William Kennedy onstage afterward for a Q&A. The lavish film revolves around the entertainers and gangsters who frequented the club during its heyday, complete with the jazz music of the era.

Composer and artist Kathryn Bostic also will perform torch songs similar to those in the film, accompanied by a local jazz trio. Bostic has composed for more than 40 films, among them “Middle of Nowhere,” “Dear White People” and “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” and is the first African American female composer to be admitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


“There’s Something About Mary” poster

Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

Coming as a guest with “There’s Something About Mary” will be Peter Farrelly, who will participate in a Q&A onstage following its screening April 18, closing the festival. The comedy starts with a boy’s prom date with the girl of his dreams that goes horribly wrong, followed by his efforts to find her again years later.

The remaining schedule of films will be announced at a later date – among them one from Alfred Hitchcock – along with additional directors, actors, critics and others who will participate in onstage discussions following screenings.

All Ebertfest films are screened at the Virginia Theatre, a restored 1920s-era movie palace in downtown Champaign, with related talks and panel discussions at the nearby Hyatt Place or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The festival, sponsored by the U. of I. College of Media and Chaz Ebert, 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. Films for the festival are selected by Chaz and festival director Nate Kohn based on established criteria and lists Roger Ebert made over the first 15 years of the festival.

Festival passes covering all screenings during the festival are available for $150, plus processing. Four passes purchased together are $510 instead of $600, a 15% discount.

Also available are a small number of U. of I. student passes at $100 each.

The passes, limited to 1,000, can be purchased through the Ebertfest website, the Virginia Theatre website or the theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063.

Updates will be posted on the festival website. Tickets for individual movies will be available April 1.

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