Roger Ebert

Chris Fleck
Wednesday - October 20, 2010
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With the 30th annual Hawaii International Film Festival in full swing, continuing through Saturday at Regal Theaters Dole Cannery, it is appropriate to visit an Old Friend of MidWeek who is in town viewing various movies at the festival.

American film critic emeritus Roger Ebert, who appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in 1985 and whose column has been featured in MidWeek for two decades, is no stranger to HIFF. In fact, he tells us he has been to the festival more than 20 times, largely because HIFF gives Ebert a chance to view international films before they reach the Mainland market.

“I always find new movies at the HIFF, especially from the Pacific Rim. HIFF often gets the first look,” says Ebert.

Ebert, whose career as a critic and reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times has spanned more than 40 years, keeps his approach and preparation to reviewing movies pretty simple: “It is just me and the film. Like every other viewer, I simply walk in knowing what I’ve already heard about the movie, and walk out knowing a lot more,” says Ebert, who added that he does post viewing research for his Great Movies essays.

Ebert understands the concept that marketing movies in new ways makes it easier and more convenient for audiences to view them, but he holds true to the tradition that movies are intended for the theater. “The rise of video technology makes filmmaking more affordable. The new ways of delivery, including on-demand and streaming, bring more movies to more viewers, but the basic experience still remains in a movie theater,” he says.

Ebert enjoys the idea of people having expectations and talking about the movies they have seen or those being promoted, and that is why he continues to review movies as a passion and livelihood. Even his recent battle with cancer, which stole his ability to speak (we communicated via e-mail), has not swayed the movie connoisseur from expressing his thoughts about a film.

“I like using a conversational style, and discussing various genres of movies in terms of our expectations for them,” he says.

So what does the critic of all critics do when he is not reviewing movies?

“Reading is my great pleasure.”

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