Chaz Ebert talks 22nd Annual Ebertfest


Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Chaz Ebert, host of the 22nd annual Ebertfest, joins us in studio to share about what they have planned for this year’s festival.


The Cotton Club Encore will open this year’s event and There’s Something About Mary will close the festivities

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival to take place April 15-18, 2020 in Champaign, IL

The 22nd Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as ‘Ebertfest”, announced today that Francis Ford Coppola’s THE COTTON CLUB ENCORE will open this year’s festival and The Farrelly Brothers’ THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY will close this year’s event.  

In the lavish, 1930s-era drama known as THE COTTON CLUB ENCORE, Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club becomes a hotbed of passion and violence as the lives and loves of entertainers and gangsters collide. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, THE COTTON CLUB ENCORE features never-before-seen scenes and musical sequences that deepen and enrich the storylines in this remastered and beautifully restored version of THE COTTON CLUB. Screenwriter William Kennedy will be in attendance to discuss the film.  

Following the screening, award winning composer and artist Kathryn Bostic will perform live on stage at the Virginia Theatre. Bostic, a  composer, pianist, vocalist and music producer for film, TV and live theater and the first African-American female score composer to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has  written the scores for such films as Ava Duvernay’s “Middle of Nowhere,” Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.”

“I am especially pleased to introduce Kathryn Bostic to the Ebertfest Family,” said Chaz Ebert, co-founder and host of Ebertfest.  “Last year we showed ‘Amazing Grace’ about Aretha Franklin followed by an uplifting gospel choir from the community. This year, following Francis Ford Coppola’s director’s cut of THE COTTON CLUB ENCORE, the acclaimed Ms Bostic will wow us with torch songs accompanied by a hot jazz trio from the community. Ebertfest is all about love, and community, and tearing the roof off the house with soulful sounds. “ 

In THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, the Farrelly Brothers set this romantic comedy in their home state of Rhode Island. In 1985, when teen-nerd Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) challenges a high-schooler who’s bullying Warren Jenson (W. Earl Brown), his concern prompts Warren’s sister, the dazzling and desirable Mary Jenson (Cameron Diaz) to choose Ted as her senior prom date, a fact Ted’s pals find hard to believe. However, on prom night, Ted gets his privates caught in his zipper, so the much-desired date never happens. Living in Providence and waxing nostalgic 13 years later, Ted hires Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to locate Mary, and the creepy private investigator finds her in Miami, where she lives with her tan-shriveled roommate Magda (Lin Shaye). After Pat develops a stalker-style fixation on the lovely, unattached Mary, he lies to Ted, telling him that she’s now an overweight mother confined to a wheelchair. Employing professional eavesdropping equipment, Pat gathers a dossier on Mary’s life and future plans, information that forms the basis for more lies when Pat begins dating her. Sure enough, Mary falls for Pat, although her friend Tucker (Lee Evans) is very suspicious of Pat’s claim to be a Harvard-educated architect. Meanwhile, Ted learns the truth but continues to encounter offbeat obstacles as he accelerates to Miami in hopes of finding happiness with his true love. 

Co-director Bobby Farrelly and screenwriter John Strauss will participate in a post-screening Q&A immediately following the screening.

The 22nd Anniversary of Ebertfest will be held 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.

Passes are now available for purchase and cost $150, plus processing. Four passes purchased together are $510 instead of $600, or 15 percent off. Also available are a small number of U. of I. student passes priced at $100 each. They can be purchased 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. Tickets for individual movies will be available April 1.

Those interested in being a festival sponsor should contact Andy Hall, the festival’s project coordinator, at

For additional information, please visit


Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (EBERTFEST) is a movie lovers festival that celebrates film in all its formats and genres including independent, international and studio films that did not win wide audiences; lesser seen formats such as 70mm; and genres such as documentaries and musicals. 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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