“For me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” said Roger Ebert. “If it’s a great movie, it lets you understand a little bit more about what it’s like to be a different gender, a different race, a different age, a different economic class, a different nationality, a different profession, different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears.”
“Empathy can be generated through pathos and humor and by sharing communal experiences,” said Chaz. “This year in Roger’s memory we will gather together in what Roger has called the temple of cinema to reaffirm our connections to each other.”
Joining this year’s Ebertfest will be director Frank Oz, known for creating and performing many beloved characters on “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street,” bringing to life Yoda in the “Star Wars” series, and directing numerous films, from “Little Shop of Horrors” to “What About Bob?” and “Bowfinger.” “We are eager to welcome this special guest whose work is the very embodiment of empathy,” said Chaz.
Oz will accompany the screening of his film Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself” (2020), a biography that explores identity and illusion while the storyteller and magician attempts to answer, “Who am I?” The film originated as a play written and performed by DelGaudio and directed by Oz, which ran Off-Broadway for 72 weeks. Derek DelGaudio and Janet Pierson, director emeritus of SXSW Film Festival, will also be in attendance.
The German cinematic masterpiece “Wings of Desire” (1987) made director Wim Wenders’s name synonymous with film art. “You’re seduced into the spell of this movie,” wrote Roger Ebert in his original review. The film, which was shot in black and white and color, features Bruno Ganz as Damiel, an angel who is willing to give up his perch high over Berlin, his ability to hear thoughts, as well as his immortality to return to earth after falling in love with a trapeze artist. Created shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ebert wrote that “the film is like music or a landscape: It clears a space in my mind, and in that space I can consider questions. Some of them are asked in the film: ‘Why am I me and why not you? Why am I here and why not there? When did time begin and where does space end?’” Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, will attend.