How wonderful to see Roger Ebert appearing in public with verve & confidence, after recent surgeries to his salivary glands & right jaw left him unable to speak. I consider him one of our smartest, greatest film critics, & a person who lives life with optimism & joi de vivre. Few writers have taken movies more seriously, or held them to higher standards, than Mr. Ebert.
His Overlooked Film Festival was held at the Virginia Theater in Champagne, Illinois, near his hometown of Urbana. The AP story (written by David Mercer) posted on Yahoo! News reports:
Ebert walked slowly through the 86-year-old movie house, where he said through his wife that he had watched "Gone with the Wind" and his father saw Marx Brothers films.
In an e-mailed note to reporters and a column in the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week, Ebert spoke frankly about his appearance, saying he had been warned by friends that showing up would invite both unflattering photos and unkind coverage.
"So what?" Ebert wrote. "I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks."
He wrote that he now awaits another operation that he hopes will restore his speech....
Festival organizers set up a recliner at the back of the theater for Ebert. He wrote in his column that he needed it for back pain but said through his wife Wednesday it served another purpose.
She read from a statement, to laughter and applause: "I will fulfill a lifelong dream to have my own La-Z-Boy chair in a movie theater."