The day kicked off with a panel discussion at the Hyatt in Downtown Champaign. The topic was empathy and many of the panel members were young people in film and media. The central question seemed to be, "Are we getting less empathetic? And how does our media and how we consume it affect that level of empathy?"
The topic of Netflix came up. The audience seemed to be positioned in that Netflix and other online viewing mediums were degrading our empathy due to the isolation and binge watching of only particular genres versus going out into the world to interact with others while taking in a film that may not be exactly your style. In opposition, the panel argued that online watching allows users to access millions of titles and genres whereas in "real life" one would have to wait until a film is released in your area to view it.
Hendrick House is a student housing group on campus that supports the Ebertfest. Here is their Cuban sandwich that looks mouth watering. I talked with Sarah and Teresa (pictured below) who bought the sandwich. "Our brother was a cook at Hendrick house. We love their food" they explained.
Teresa (left) and Sarah (right) have been coming since 2003. Teresa is a long time fan of Ebert saying that she used to read his column and has always loved his commentary. They both appreciate that the festival celebrates films that are often overlooked.
Ebertfest gave out gold thumbs this year to those who have been coming to the festival for 15 years or more.
The movie was delayed so Chaz brought some stage crew up to dance and the whole crowd joined in.
Hysteria was a movie about the vibrator. The director introduced the movie saying, "it is supposed to be funny, so laugh!" Laugh many did.
After the movie, panel members discussed the comedy built into the movie but also how the term hysteria, although delegitimized in the 1950's, is still often used to describe behavior today.
The night drew near and the sun set beautifully in the west. This is a photo from an Urbana street. Surely one that Ebert had walked perhaps viewing a similar sunset during his years in Urbana.
The night ended with The Handmaiden. I personally had seen the film late last year and enjoyed it for it's beautiful sets, plot twists, and ghoulish characters. Others however referred to it as, "pure porn" which Chaz addressed saying, "our film scholar says that this is not pornography. It is as beautiful as Michael Angelos David sculpture of a nude man."