Ebertfest Day 4: A Shaky Start

The Virginia Theater (spiritual and actual home of EbertFest) is something like 1.7 miles from my hotel (located in the middle of campus).

It’s the worst possible distance. It’s just far enough away that my lesser demons grumble about not having a car and driver assigned to whisk me to all points of the compass at my slightest whim. But it’s also categorically near enough that it’d be cheap, petty and childish to complain.

“I had to walk every morning!” I might say to my friends when I get home with my Tales of EbertFestery. “Can you believe it?”

“Isn’t that a half mile less than your usual morning Constitutional?” they will respond. And then they’ll probably refuse to pick up the check for breakfast, just to be churlish.

No, it’s a fine morning bracer. But you don’t want to be 1.1 miles into it and then realize that you left your VIP pass at home.


The whole point was to get here early to secure my seat for the day. Three flicks, boom-boom-boom. Fortunately I was able to unleash a Leona Helmsley-sized can of tantrum on the poor innocent kid at the gate and I was whisked right into the premium seating section.=

(More accurately: I explained that I was an ass and they got me another pass.)

This is the first day when I feel like a true festivalgoer. I have ditched the “Making A Good Impression On An Audience” outfit and am in basic togs. I have a backpack filled with illegal snacks from the outside world. A sack of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish goes a long way to get you through nine hours of movies and Q&A.

And of course I have the Hackintosh in my lap, hooked up to the Sprint wireless network for internet access. I have long stringy hair (rushed from the hotel this morning; showered, but did not shampoo) and am overweight; both are important tools when blogging from a film festival.

Chaz Ebert is on stage right now, introducing “The Fall.” Roger appears with the filmmakers. His MacBook is on the podium and he’s using text-to-speech to sub for the voice he lost during his successful cancer treatments.

I first heard him “speak” this way a couple of weeks ago at the Conference On World Affairs. He uses a very Malcom McDowell-like voice (from his modern “Star Trek: Generations” era. Roger is one of the most skillful and charming men on the planet and I’m not sure I’d enjoy hearing him speak like Emperor Caligula or Alex from “Clockwork Orange.”

It’s a very natural effect.

“There isn-t a single frame of computer generated effects in thnis film,” he said, to an applause I don’t understand.

1 thought on “Ebertfest Day 4: A Shaky Start

  1. Eric Isaacson

    Trick I’ve learned as an Ebertfest vet: when you undress for the night, don’t put the pass anywhere sensible, like on the bedstand. Instead, put it on the floor on the way out the door.

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