CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — When the curtains open for Ebertfest next Wednesday at the Virginia Theatre, they will do so in memory of Gilbert Gottfried.
The actor was expected to be on hand for the showing of a documentary about him, but he died on Tuesday due to a rare muscle disease. He was 67 years old.
The documentary, called “Gilbert,” will still be shown with its director in attendance. The film highlights Gottfried’s personality off stage.
“We were very very excited to have Gilbert Gottfried with us on stage to be a part of the discussion of that movie,” said Ebertfest project coordinator Andrew Hall. “But unfortunately, with Gilbert being lost to us so close to the festival, we decided that we still wanted to keep the documentary.”
On Thursday, Ebertfest organizers announced that this year’s festival will be dedicated to Gottfried in a dual honor with the late Sidney Poitier.
“Chaz Ebert said it best when she said ‘I think that Gilbert Gottfried would enjoy the juxtaposition of these two very unlikely individuals too be commemorated in the same moment,'” Hall said.
Ebert also said “Even at this moment, we are adding to the guests who will celebrate Gottfried’s life. The festival hopes that as many people as possible will attend the ‘Gilbert’ documentary showing.”
“Gilbert” will be shown at 4 p.m. on Thursday.