CHICAGO, ILLINOISE-(FANGORIA) A decision to bravely face the world can sometimes NOT get the appropriate reception originally perceived. That was the dilemma facing long time tv host of PBS "At The Movies" /Chicago Sun Times Movie critic, Roger Ebert. He was quite repulsive to look at that many people turned their faces in shock and awe. Some movie goers at the festival left early repelled by the sight of him. Even in the dark!
The 64-year-old, award-winning movie critic had written a column in Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times paper announcing his participation at the ninth annual festival, which starts a two day run at the University of Illinois at Urbana. "I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival. I'm told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc.," wrote Roger Ebert. Informing everyone he doesn't "give a damn" about how illness and surgery has disfigured his appearance.
Roger underwent surgery after surgery in the past few years & removal of a cancerous growth from his salivitary gland in 2006. Doctors removed part of his bottom jaw and performed a tracheotomy opening an airway through an incision in the windpipe allowing him to breathe. The latter procedure has left the Mr. Ebert not able to speak, requiring further surgery.
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out. Borrowing a line from Raging Bull, I ain't a pretty boy no more," he wrote. "I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. I still have my brain and my typing fingers." He went further to say that our society focuses, "too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I'm not going to miss my festival."
Ebert created this festival which highlights film titles he feels have been overlooked. He has selected this year's choices as usual, festival organizers said. However, his convalescence had forced them to find replacements to introduce programming and lead panels & post-screening discussions.
A film critic with the Sun-Times since 1967, Ebert won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 1975. That same year, he teamed up with cross-town critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune for a movie review television show which was eventually named Siskel & Ebert.
Roger's presence annoyed & discussed all the attendees, minus those who were bused in from the Braille Institute of Cinema. Whispers throughout the event focused on their key revulsion of the evening...just where did Roger Ebert find that horribly ugly tie?!!