Ebertfest – Day One
There are some basic survivor strategies that one must know when one comes to Ebertfest. I attended Ebertfest 2005 with my BFF Avis who was a big editor at the Chicago Sun Times and friend of Roger, so we had VIP-this and Press-that. But being a lone Cougar I had only the upgrade of Festival Pass which gives me early access to seating (general seating) before the single ticket holders. However, one must arrive very early to get the best seat cause there seemed to have been several hundred Festival Pass holders who knew to come more than 30 minutes before show time.
However, after cruising around the theater I did find a good seat at stage left in the second row. The crowd is a mix of older intelligentsia (the Public Radio crowd), Champaign Urbanians, assorted film industry types, VIP’s, students and geeks. I placed my coat on the seat to stake my claim.
Then I went shopping. I bought some books and an Ebertfest 2009 tote bag (it’s very nice).
I got my popcorn “extra butter” and soda. By the way, never ask a sized one “20 something” for extra butter…
I went back to my seat and found I had a delightful new seat mate. Pam and I proceeded to talk shit with each other intermittantly throughout the movie.
Roger came out on stage before the screening and we (the audience) immediately stood up and gave him a standing ovation. The adulation was palpable. (I am a total Ebert disciple)
The man is brilliant, funny and generous. He is also a critic with discerning taste…not snotty, but he knows his shit, so when he gives a compliment, he means it. He has given me great compliments (about my singing and my writing) and I am humbled by it and eternally grateful.
He calls for his computer device that speaks for him (Roger has not been able to speak now for some time) in a British “Masterpiece Theater” voice. It’s wild. He addresses the audience with his usual humor.
Then his soul mate and wife Chaz Ebert introduces the director of our film: Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music, the Director’s Cut. His name is Michael Wadleigh and he is a brilliant and kinda hot lookin’ long gray haired genius.
Right before the film starts Roger says in the British voice (via his computer):
Stay away from the brown acid!
The film begins.
I have to tell ya that I was a bit unenthused when I heard that the first film was Woodstock.
THAT OLD THING?
WELL… what the hell do I know anyway?
I began to get excited about it after reading Roger’s review and then discovered the worldwide acclaim and Academy Award history of the film including a young Martin Scorsese
as assistant director and of course, it’s about the music and the Sixties and well, I pulled my head out of my ass and relied upon Roger’s impeccable taste.
WOODSTOCK IS FANTASTIC!! And the Director’s Cut kills!! I was crying, rocking and rolling, clapping, whooping and hollering like I was at a live concert.
That is how the screen announced our intermission! Loved that!
So I went to find Roger & Chaz. Roger sits in a huge upholstered armchair in the back – of course. Roger is a real trouper hanging to the very end of the show, which at just under four hours is no small test of one’s ass or spine!
I got to visit with Roger for some brief few moments. He wrote me a note:
I had emailed him that I was gonna take the 8A.M. train to Ebertfest. He said he thought it was a good idea.
The film began again. Woodstock 3 Days of Peace and Music, The Director’s Cut has been remastered and re-edited with about 45 minutes of added footage. It is a masterpiece.
The coverage of the artists – all young and at the top of their game – was stupendous. And it was handled beautifully because the director had such love and respect for his subject matter: The music, the artists, the Sixties – that special blink in the time when the hippies danced and love and peace was the motto. There was a movement in our country when the youth spoke out, dropped out and created their own culture and aesthetics. I have always been so in love with that time. I had forgotten.
A member of Sha Na Na (yep! They performed at Woodstock – one of their first gigs!) the producer and director participated in a “question and answer” session after the screening. It was an awesome opportunity to be able to talk to these great film makers.
Roger gave us a great gift tonight. We walked out of that theater as one special family.
And it’s just the beginning.
I will write my detailed impression of Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music, the Director’s Cut later…
Tags: acid, Add new tag, chaz ebert, ebertfest, Linkedin, Lynne Jordan, lynne jordan & the shivers, Martin Scorsese, MICHAEL WADLEIGH, Roger Ebert, roger ebert.com, ronnee sass, WARNER BROTHERS, woodstock, Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music
Filed under: In the Life of a Diva